Glacier Change of Altay Mountain in China from 1960 to 2009 -Based on the Second Glacier Inventory of China

  • 1. Geography and Environment College, Northwest Normal University, Lanzhou 730070, China;
    2. State Key Laboratory of Cryosphere Sciences, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China

Received date: 2012-02-02

  Revised date: 2012-04-25

  Online published: 2012-10-20


Glacier change of Altay Mountain in China during the past 50 years was analyzed based on the outcome of Investigation of Chinese Glacier Resources and Their Changes and result of the First Glacier Inventory of China. The results showed that glaciers had been retreating in Altay Mountain in China from 1960 to 2009. The number of decreased glaciers reached 116, the area reduced 104.61 km2 and the volume loss was 6.19 km3. Compared with glacier change in other mountains in China, the annual average rate of glacier recession was the maximum in Altay Mountain where thus was the strongest region of glacier shrinkage. From the respect of glacier orientation, glaciers retreated in every direction. The maximum loss of glacier area occurred in north direction and the minimum appeared in west direction. The number and area of glaciers showed an obvious decrease tendency at altitudes of 2400-2600 m, 2600-2800 m and 3000-3200 m. The most remarkable shrinkage of glaciers occurred at an altitude of 2600-2800 m. Glacier change had a regional difference. The number and area of glacier retreat decreased most in Burqin River watershed where the glaciers were concentrated. However, there was an inconsistency between number and area reduction of glaciers in other watersheds. The recession or disappearance of a large amount of small glaciers was the main cause of regional difference of glacier change. There was a close relation between glacier recession and climate change in Altay Mountain. The average temperature from May to September and precipitation from October to April in the next year from four meteorological stations in the study area both increased. The glacier recession in this region indicated that supplies to glaciers by increases in precipitation did not compensate for ablation rate increases caused by the dramatic temperature rise during the study period.

Cite this article

YAO Xiao-jun, LIU Shi-yin, GUO Wan-qin, HUAI Bao-juan, SUN Mei-ping, XU Jun-li . Glacier Change of Altay Mountain in China from 1960 to 2009 -Based on the Second Glacier Inventory of China[J]. JOURNAL OF NATURAL RESOURCES, 2012 , (10) : 1734 -1745 . DOI: 10.11849/zrzyxb.2012.10.011


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