Response of Lake Area on the Tibetan Plateau to Climate Change

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Kun Yang, ITP Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China, Yanbin Lei, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, CAS, Beijing, China, Bin Wang, Univ Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, United States, Yongwei Sheng, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States and Broxton W Bird, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Department of Earth Sciences,, IN, IN, United States
The water balance of inland lakes on the Tibetan Plateau (TP) involves complex hydrological processes; their dynamics over recent decades is a good indicator of changes in water cycle under rapid global warming. Based on satellite images and extensive field investigations the lake area on the Tibetna Plateau exhibits significant changes since the end of 1990s: a coherent lake growth on the TP interior (TPI) has occurred and shrinkage on the southern TP. Closed lakes on the TPI varied heterogeneously during 1976–1999, but expanded coherently and significantly in both lake area and water depth during 1999–2010. Although the decreased potential evaporation and glacier mass loss may contribute to the lake growth since the late 1990s, the significant water surplus is mainly attributed to increased regional precipitation, which, in turn, may be related to changes in large-scale atmospheric circulation, including the intensified Northern Hemisphere summer monsoon (NHSM) circulation and the poleward shift of the Eastern Asian westerlies jet stream.