JOURNAL OF NATURAL RESOURCES ›› 2019, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (7): 1506-1520.doi: 10.31497/zrzyxb.20190713

• Resource Ecology • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Glacier changes along the Silk Road Economic Belt in China in the past 50 years: Based on the revised First and Second Chinese Glacier Inventory

LI Long1, YAO Xiao-jun2, LIU Shi-yin3,4, BU Ya-ping1, GONG Peng2, LI Xiao-feng2   

  1. 1. Lanzhou Resources & Environment Voc-Tech College, Lanzhou 730021, China;
    2. College of Geographical and Environmental Science, Northwest Normal University, Lanzhou 730070, China;
    3. Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China;
    4. Institute of International Rivers and Eco-Security, Yunnan University, Kunming 650500, China
  • Received:2018-12-13 Online:2019-07-28 Published:2019-07-28

Abstract: Glaciers, important water resources in northwestern China, are of great importance to the agricultural construction and economic development of the Silk Road Economic Belt. Based on the revised First (1956s-1983s) and the newly released Second Chinese Glacier Inventory (2005s-2010s), glacier changes in the glaciated regions along the Silk Road Economic Belt in China were analyzed. The results show that: (1) Glaciated areas along the Silk Road Economic Belt in China contained 22523 glaciers, covering an area of 25516.80 km2 and ice volume of 2592.85 km3, respectively, accounting for 46.37%, 49.22% and 57.39% of the total glacier area accordingly, and among which the total amount of glacier resources in Xinjiang was the largest. (2) While most glaciers were small (15519 glaciers, 68.9% was smaller than 0.5 km2), some larger ones (totally 6833.71 km2, with each having 1.0 and 5.0 km2) covered 26.78% of the total glacier area. The altitude of concentrating regions in the glacier retreat of each mountain range was different, and the rate of area reduction differed in each height zone. (3) During the period from 1956 to 2010s, the glacier area in glaciated regions along the Silk Road Economic Belt decreased by 4547.43 km2 with a percentage change of -20.88%. In the past 50 years, 3114 glaciers have disappeared, 1318 glaciers have been separated into 2964, and 73 glaciers have been merged into 35, and the loss of glacial ice volume was about 419.35 km3. (4) The glacier changes along the Silk Road Economic Belt had the generally accelerated trend from west to east and accordingly the rate of reduction appeared from southwest to northeast. The number of glaciers that disappeared in the north was greater than that in the south. The area of the northeast was reduced most, and the largest reduction rate was found in the southeast. (5) During the period from 1961 to 2010, a warming and humidification trend was observed in the glaciated regions along the Silk Road Economic Belt, the increase rate of temperature in the dry season was greater than that in the wet season, and the increase in the precipitation in the dry season was smaller than that in the wet season. The pattern of climate combination was not conducive to the accumulation of glaciers, hence leading to the retreating of glaciers. The scale of glacier development also had some impact on the retreat of glaciers, but there were spatial differences in terms of the driving forces of glaciers in each mountain range.

Key words: glacier changes, glacier inventory, the Silk Road Economic Belt in China, climate change