Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-335
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-335

  22 Nov 2021

22 Nov 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Contribution of ground ice melting to the expansion of Serling Co lake on the Tibetan Plateau

Lingxiao Wang1, Lin Zhao1,2, Huayun Zhou2,3, Shibo Liu2,3, Erji Du2, Defu Zou2, Guangyue Liu2, Yao Xiao2, Guojie Hu2, Chong Wang1, Zhe Sun2, Zhibin Li1, Yongping Qiao2, Tonghua Wu2, Chengye Li1, and Xubing Li1 Lingxiao Wang et al.
  • 1School of Geographical Sciences, Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology (NUIST), Nanjing 210044, China
  • 2Cryosphere Research Station on Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, State Key Laboratory of Cryosphere Science, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Lanzhou, 730000, China
  • 3University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Abstract. Serling Co lake, surrounded by permafrost and glacier-occupied regions, has exhibited the greatest increase in water storage over the last 50 years among all the lakes on the Tibetan Plateau. However, increases in precipitation and glacial melting are not enough to explain the increased water volume of lake expansion. The magnitude of the contribution of thawing permafrost to this increase under climate warming remains unknown. This study made the first attempt to quantify the water contribution of ground ice melting to the expansion of Serling Co lake by evaluating the ground surface deformation. We monitored the spatial distribution of surface deformation in the Serling Co basin using the SBAS-InSAR technique and compared it with the findings of field surveys. Then, the ground ice meltwater volume in the watershed was calculated based on the long-term deformation rate. Finally, this volume was compared with the lake volume change during the same period, and the contribution ratio was derived. SBAS-InSAR monitoring during 2017–2020 illustrated widespread and large subsidence in the upstream section of the Zhajiazangbu subbasin, where widespread continuous permafrost is present. The terrain subsidence was normally between 5 and 20 mm/a, indicating rapid ground ice loss in the region. The ground ice meltwater reached 56.0 × 106 m3/a, and the rate of increase in lake water storage was 496.3 × 106 m3/a during the same period, with ground ice meltwater contributing 11.3 % of the lake volume increase. This study is especially helpful in explaining the rapid expansion of Serling Co lake and equilibrating the water balance at the watershed scale. More importantly, the proposed method can be easily extended to other watersheds underlain by permafrost and to help understand the hydrologic changes in these watersheds.

Lingxiao Wang et al.

Status: open (until 17 Jan 2022)

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Lingxiao Wang et al.

Lingxiao Wang et al.

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Short summary
Serling Co lake had the greatest increase in water storage recently among all the lakes on the Tibetan Plateau. This study made the first attempt to quantify the water contribution of ground ice melting to the expansion of this lake by evaluating the ground surface deformation since terrain surface settlement provides a “window” to detect the subsurface ground ice melting. Results show that the water contribution ratio could reach 10 % during 2017–2020.