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1 January 2017 Glacier Changes on the Qiangtang Plateau between 1976 and 2015: A Case Study in the Xainza Xiegang Mountains
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Abstract

Xainza County on the Qiangtang Plateau (QP) spans a transitionally climatic and eco-environmental zone and is therefore a very sensitive region. Glaciers in this area are one of the most important kinds of land cover as well as key water resources, yet our understanding of their current status and spatio-temporal change remains limited. Using Landsat images, this study investigated the current distribution of glaciers (2015) in the Xainza Xiegang Mountains as well as the spatio-temporal changes that took place over six time periods between 1976 and 2015. Results show that, in 2015, 131 glaciers covered a total area of 74.59 ± 5.25 km2, mainly located between 5,600 and 6,000 m above sea level (a.s.l). Between 1976 and 2015, the total number of glaciers increased by 12, while their areas decreased by 24.98% (24.83 km2). Glacial retreat has induced a loss of water resources of 11.77 × 108 m3 over the last 39 years, while spatial heterogeneities in glacial changes across various sub-basins, aspects, and altitudinal zones are also clearly observed. Climate warming is the key factor driving this continuous glacial retreat; the high-quality dataset presented in this paper for the Xainza Xiegang study area is crucial for the ongoing assessment of climatic and eco-environmental changes.

Nie Yong, Yang Chao, Zhang Yili, Liu Linshan, and Xu Xia "Glacier Changes on the Qiangtang Plateau between 1976 and 2015: A Case Study in the Xainza Xiegang Mountains," Journal of Resources and Ecology 8(1), 97-104, (1 January 2017). https://doi.org/10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2017.01.012
Received: 15 November 2016; Accepted: 1 December 2016; Published: 1 January 2017
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