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Glacier Variations since the Early 20th Century in the Gangrigabu Range, Southeast Tibetan Plateau

LIU Shi-yin+{1,2}, SHANGGUAN Dong-hui+1, DING Yong-jian+1, HAN Hai-dong+1, ZHANG Yong+1, WANG Jian+1, XIE Chang-wei+1, DING Liang-fu+1, LI Gang+1 (1.Key Laboratory of Ice Core and Cold Regions Environment, CAREERI, CAS, Lanzhou Gansu 730000, China; 2.Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085, China)  
Recent studies indicate that most alpine glaciers around the world have retreated during the past decades under global warming. In this study, a region with temperate glaciers, mainly influenced by the Indian Monsoon, is selected to examine the present status of glaciers under a warming background. Aerial photos, topographical maps, China-Brazil Earth Resource Satellite (CBERS, with resolution of 19 m and acquired on Jan. 30 2001) and Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM, acquired on Oct. 26 1999) images are used. Aerial photos are mainly applied for identifying the end and lateral moraines formed at the end of the Little Ice Age, which was thought to occur in the mid-1920s. CBERS and Landsat TM images geometrically corrected and co-registered to 1∶{100 000} topographical maps are applied to extract the information of glacier distribution at the time the imageries acquired. It was concluded that the measured 102 glaciers in the region have all in retreat from the 1920s to 1980, with a total areal and ice volumetric decreases of 47^9 km~(2) and 6^95 km~(3). It is estimated that all glaciers in the region have lost 13^8% of their total area and 9^8% of the total ice volume during the same period. Since 1980, glaciers in the region have also experienced an ice mass loss process in general, according to the data of 88 glaciers with a total area of 797^78 km~(2) from topographical maps in 1980 and the CBERS image in 2001. About 60% of these glaciers have been losing their mass and other glaciers have advanced. Analysis indicates that glacier retreat has significantly impacted glacial meltwater runoff, resulting in 50% decrease of runoff from 1915 to 1980. The trend of glacier retreat and climatic warming during the last century, especial during the past two decades, shows a possibility that mass loss of glaciers in the region will be accelerating in the future.
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