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Glacier changes from a new inventory, Nianchu river basin, Tibetan Plateau

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The ice cover of the Nianchu river basin, southern Tibetan Plateau, was mapped for 2005, using a SPOT5 scene, and for 1990 and 2000 from Landsat TM/ETM. Digital elevation models (DEMs) were generated from 1 : 50 000 scale topographical maps. The results show that in 2005 there were 136 glaciers in this basin, with a total area of 224 km2. Of these, 37 glaciers had an area >1 km2 and 10 were larger than 5 km2; the average snout altitude was 5608 m a.s.l. A comparison of outlines from the last 15 years shows that most glaciers have decreased in size; none have advanced. From 1990 to 2005, Xiaquepu glacier No. 56 and Shimozongpu glacier No. 38 retreated 310 and 560 m, respectively. The mean reduction in glacier surface area was 5% (10 a)–1 while the area of glacial lakes expanded by 10%; nine new lakes formed in this basin over the 15 year period. Because air temperatures here have been increasing, while precipitation has remained steady, glacier retreat is considered to be related to rising temperature.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-02-01

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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