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Glacier variations in response to climate change from 1972 to 2007 in the western Lenglongling mountains, northeastern Tibetan Plateau

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Global warming is causing widespread glacier retreat, with small glaciers disappearing. We investigate changes in glaciers over the western Lenglongling mountains, located in the northeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau. Glacier extent over the western Lenglongling mountains is estimated by comparing digitized glacier outlines obtained from aerial photographs and satellite imagery. These results suggest that all 179 glaciers in the western Lenglongling mountains shrunk between 1972 and 2007. The total area loss was 24.4 km2, accounting for 28.3% (0.81% a–1) of the glacierized area in 1972. The average area retreat rates differ over different time intervals: they are approximately 0.68, 0.90, 0.77 and 0.56 km2 a–1 over the periods 1972–95, 1995–99, 1999–2002 and 2002–07, respectively. Based on analysis of meteorological data, glacier shrinkage in the study area can probably be attributed to the increase in air temperature. Furthermore, the smaller glaciers display a higher shrinkage rate than larger glaciers, and glaciers on southwest-facing slopes appear to retreat faster than those on northeast-facing slopes.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2012

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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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