Slight glacier reduction over the northwestern Tibetan Plateau despite
significant recent warming
Yetang Wang1, Shugui Hou2, Wenling An2, Hongxi Pang2, and Yaping Liu31College of Geography and Environment, Shandong Normal University, Jinan 250014, China 2Key Laboratory of Coast and Island Development of Ministry of Education, School of Geographic and Oceanographic Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China 3State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
Received: 30 Jun 2016 – Accepted for review: 12 Jul 2016 – Discussion started: 14 Jul 2016
Abstract. "Pamir–Karakoram–Western-Kunlun-Mountain (northwestern Tibetan Plateau) Glacier Anomaly" has been a topic of debate due to the balanced, or even slightly positive glacier mass budgets in the early 21st century. Here we focus on the evolution of glaciers on the western Kunlun Mountain and its comparison with those from other regions of the Tibetan Plateau. The possible driver for the glacier evolution is also discussed. Western Kunlun Mountain glaciers reduce in area by 0.12 % yr−1 from 1970s to 2007–2011. However, there is no significant area change after 1999. Averaged glacier thickness loss is 0.08 ± 0.09 m yr−1 from 1970s to 2000, which is in accordance with elevation change during the period 2003–2008 estimated by the ICESat laser altimetry measurements. These further confirm the anomaly of glaciers in this region. Slight glacier reduction over the northwestern Tibetan Plateau may result from more accumulation from increased precipitation in winter which to great extent protects it from mass reductions under climate warming during 1961–2000. Warming slowdown since 2000 happening at this region may further mitigate glacier mass reduction, especially for the early 21st century.
Wang, Y., Hou, S., An, W., Pang, H., and Liu, Y.: Slight glacier reduction over the northwestern Tibetan Plateau despite
significant recent warming, The Cryosphere Discuss., doi:10.5194/tc-2016-165, in review, 2016.