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Changes in the elevation and extent of two glaciers along the Yanglonghe river, Qilian Shan, China

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Abstract:

We use topographic maps, historical data, multispectral satellite data and real-time kinematic GPS data to analyze glacier area, length and ice-elevation changes of two glaciers in the central Qilian Shan, China, between 1956 and 2007. We find that the fronts of Yanglonghe glacier No. 1 (5Y432A1) and Yanglonghe glacier No. 5 (5Y432A5) have retreated by 266.5 ± 37.1 m (5.2 ± 0.73 m a−1) and 181.4 ± 37.1 m (3.6 ± 0.73 m a−1) respectively, and that this retreat accelerated after 1999. During the study period, the glacier areas decreased by ∼4.1% and 15.9% respectively. In addition, spatially non-uniform thinning, which averaged 20.2 ± 11 m (0.4 ± 0.22 m a−1) and 16.9 ± 11 m (0.33 ± 0.22 m a−1) in the ablation areas of 5Y432A1 and 5Y432A5 respectively, is observed using digital elevation models constructed using data from 1956, 1977 and 2007. The ice-volume depletion from 5Y432A1 (2.91 × 107 m3) was 2.7 times greater than from the smaller 5Y432A5 (1.08 × 107 m3). Based on records from nearby Tuole weather station, increasing annual temperatures are principally responsible for the observed glacier thinning and retreat.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3189/002214310791968566

Publication date: 2010-06-01

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.

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