Cai, Y.; Huang, W.; Teng, F., and Gu, S., 2014. Effects of changing climate on glacier shrinkage and river flow in the Upper Heihe River Basin, China.
Based on observed hydro-meteorological data and Remote Sensing images collected from 1990 to 2010, analysis has been conducted to investigate the effects of changing climate on glacier shrinkage and river flow in the upper Heihe River basin, an inland mountain river basin in China. Observed data indicates that the temperature in the study area shows the increase trend at the annual increase rate of 0.07 Celsius Degree/year. Spatial analysis of glacier coverage indicates that the glacier coverage area shrankby 52.93 km2 at the rate of approximately 2.65 km2/year from 1990 to 2010 due to the global climate change. Small glaciers with area less than 1 km2 account for over 87 % of the remaining glaciers in 2010, which will accelerate the recession of glaciers. Further analysis of river flows at Zhamashike Station shows the increase trend of the river flow at the 0.4 m3s−1/year. Through comparsion of variation characterisitcs of air temperatues, glaciers and runoff, the relationship between climate change, galciers shrinkage and runoff change is analyzed. It is indicated that the acute long-term loss of glacial storage will intensify water scarcity in the arid basin, notwithstanding the recent increase in runoff due to the melting of glaciers induced by global warming. It is urgent and important for the Heihe River basin to establish reasonable water resources management measures against glacier shrinkage and climate change.