Glacial retreat on the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding regions is characteristic since the 1960s and has intensified in the past 10 yr. The magnitude of glacial retreat is relatively small in the interior of the Tibetan Plateau and increases to the margins of the plateau, with the greatest retreat around the edges. Glacial retreat in this region is impacting the hydrological processes in the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding regions. The glacial retreat has caused an increase of more than 5.5% in river runoff from the plateau. In some areas, such as the Tarim River basin, the increase in river runoff is greater. Glacial retreat has also caused rising lake levels in the areas with large coverage of glaciers, such as the Nam Co Lake and Selin Co Lake areas. Rising lake levels are devastating grasslands and villages near the lakes.
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Vol. 39 • No. 4