JOURNAL OF NATURAL RESOURCES ›› 2020, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (2): 399-412.doi: 10.31497/zrzyxb.20200212

• Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatial and temporal variations in mass balance of Qiyi Glacier in Qilian Mountains

WANG Sheng1, YAO Tan-dong2, PU Jian-chen3   

  1. 1. Geography Science Institute, Shanxi Normal University, Linfen 041000, Shanxi, China;
    2. Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    3. State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Northwest Institute of Eco-environment and Resources, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • Received:2018-11-13 Revised:2019-03-02 Online:2020-02-28 Published:2020-02-28

Abstract: Based on in-situ observations in Qiyi Glacier during 2011-2016, and combined with the data from meteorological stations and remote sensing images (1975-2015), this paper analyzed the glacier terminal change, spatial and temporal variations of glacier mass balance and its sensitivity to climate change. The results showed that: the terminal of Qiyi Glacier continued to retreat 235 m from 1975 to 2015, with a rate of 5.9 m/a, and the glacier area reduced by 0.13 km2 (4.5%). During 2011-2016, the average annual mass balance of Qiyi Glacier was -476 mm w.e., the average ELA was 4941 m a.s.l., and the mass balance gradient was 2.9 mm/m. Affected by snowdrift and ice sublimation, the glacier mass balance tended to be more negative from November to March of the next year. Mass balance in April and September is dominated by precipitation, and the change with altitude showed the precipitation effect. Mass balance increased with altitude linearly from June to August, and the end of glacier melting season was delayed from early September to the end of September. The sensitivity analysis of glacier to climate change showed that, mass balance sensitivity to air temperature change was -178.7 mm w.e. ℃-1 a-1, while that to precipitation change was +2.93 mm w.e. mm-1 a-1. A 61 mm increase in precipitation was required to compensate for the net mass loss induced by an air temperature increase of 1 ℃.

Key words: ELA, climate sensitivity, Qiyi Glacier, mass balance, glacier change