Glacier Change in the Yigong Zangbo Basin, Tibetan Plateau, China

  • Ke, Chang-Qing (School of Geography and Ocean Science, Nanjing University) ;
  • Lee, Hoonyol (Department of Geophysics, Kangwon National University) ;
  • Han, Yan-Fei (School of Geography and Ocean Science, Nanjing University)
  • Received : 2019.04.02
  • Accepted : 2019.05.21
  • Published : 2019.08.31


Distinguishing debris-covered glaciers from debris-free glaciers is difficult when using only optical remote sensing images to extract glacier boundaries.According to the features that the surface temperature of debris-covered glacier is lower than surrounding objects, and higher than clean glaciers, glacial changes in the Yigong Zangbo basin was analyzed on the basis of visible, near-infrared and thermal-infrared band images of Landsat TM and OLI/TIRS in the support of ancillary digital elevation model (DEM). The results indicated that glacier area gradually declined from $928.76km^2$ in 1990 to $918.46km^2$ in 2000 and $901.51km^2$ in 2015. However, debris-covered glacier area showed a slight increase from $63.39km^2$ in 1990 to $66.24km^2$ in 2000 and $71.16km^2$ in 2015. During 25 years, the glacier length became shorter continuously with terminus elevation rising up. The area of moraine lakes in 1990 was $1.43km^2$, which increased to $1.98km^2$ in 2000 and $3.41km^2$ in 2015. In other words, the total area of the moraine lakes in 2015 is 2.38 times of that in 1990. This increase in moraine lake area could be the result of accelerated glacier melt and retreat, which is consistent with the significant warming trend in recent decades in the basin.


Supported by : National Nature Science Foundation of China


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