[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Improved knowledge of deglaciation processes during the termination of the Last Glacial Maximum on the Tibetan Plateau can provide important information for understanding deglaciations in climate-sensitive high-altitude ecosystems. Little, however, is known about this time interval because most lacustrine sediment records from the Tibetan Plateau are younger than 19,000 years. This study focused on a lake sediment record from Nam Co, south-central Tibetan Plateau, covering the interval from ~23.7 to 20.9 cal ka BP. We analysed the distribution and compound-specific hydrogen isotope composition (δD) of sedimentary n-alkanes, as well as the bulk sediment TOC, TN, δ13Corg and δ15N composition, to infer lake system development. Pronounced changes in environmental conditions between ~21.6 and 21.1 cal ka BP, as well as between 23.1 and 22.5 cal ka BP (Greenland Interstadial 2), were inferred from increased aquatic n-alkane amounts and decreased δDn−C23 values within these time intervals, respectively. Freshwater inputs, which most likely resulted from enhanced glacier melting, caused these changes. Our results suggest that mountain glacier retreat on the Tibetan Plateau started earlier than previously assumed. The required energy for thawing was probably provided by temperature changes caused by reorganization of atmospheric circulation, which has also been recorded in Greenland ice records.
Journal of Paleolimnology 01/2016; in press. DOI:10.1007/s10933-015-9863-1 · 2.12 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Daily snow cover mapping is difficult when Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) snow cover products are cloud obscured. The daily cloud-free snow cover product provides an essential parameter for hydrological modeling, climate system studies, and snow-caused disaster monitoring on the Tibetan Plateau (TP). In this paper, we present an algorithm, Terra–Aqua–IMS (TAI), which combines MODIS Terra and Aqua (500 m) and the Interactive Multisensor Snow and Ice Mapping System (IMS; 4 km) to produce a daily cloud-free snow cover product (500 m). The overall accuracy of the new TAI over the TP is 94% as compared with ground stations in all-sky conditions; this value is significantly higher than the 64% of the blended MODIS Terra–Aqua product and the 55% and 50% of the original MODIS Terra and Aqua products, respectively. Without the IMS, the daily combination of MODIS Terra–Aqua can only remove limited cloud contamination: 37.3% of the annual mean cloud coverage compared with 46.6% (MODIS Terra) and 55.1% (MODIS Aqua). The resulting annual mean snow cover over the TP from the daily TAI data is 19.1%, which is much larger than the 4.7%–8.1% from the daily original MODIS Terra/Aqua and the blended Terra–Aqua snow product due to cloud blockage.
IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 11/2015; 54(4). DOI:10.1109/TGRS.2015.2496950 · 3.51 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous in situ measurements have indicated a slight mass gain at Muztagh Ata in the eastern Pamir, contrary to the global trend. We extend these measurements both in space and time by using remote sensing data and present four decades of glacier variations in the entire mountain massif. Geodetic mass balances and area changes were determined at glacier scale from stereo satellite imagery and derived digital elevation models (DEMs). This includes Hexagon KH-9 (year 1973), ALOS-PRISM (2009), Pléiades (2013) and Landsat 7 ETMC data in conjunction with the SRTM-3 DEM (2000). In addition, surface velocities of Kekesayi Glacier, the largest glacier at Muztagh Ata, were derived from amplitude tracking of TerraSARX images (2011). Locally, we observed strong spatial and temporal glacier variations during the last four decades, which were, however, on average not significant for the entire massif. Some south-west-exposed glaciers fluctuated or advanced, while glaciers with other aspects rather experienced continuous shrinkage. Several glaciers such as Kekesayi indicate no measurable change at their frontal position, but clear down-wasting despite mostly thick debris coverage at low altitudes. The surface velocity of this debriscovered glacier reach up to 20 cm per day, but the lowest part of the tongue appears to be stagnant. The low velocity or even stagnancy at the tongue is likely one reason for the down-wasting. On average, the glaciers showed a small, insignificant shrinkage from 274.3 ± 10.6 km2 in 1973 to 272.7 ± 1.0 km2 in 2013 (-0.02 ± 0.1%a-1). Average mass changes in the range of -0.03 ± 0.33mw.e. a-1 (1973-2009) to -0.01 ± 0.30mw.e. a-1 (1973-2013) reveal nearly balanced budgets for the last 40 years. Indications of slightly positive rates after 1999 (+0.04 ± 0.27 mw.e. a-1) are not significant, but confirmed by measurements in the field.
The Cryosphere 11/2015; 9(6):2071-2088. DOI:10.5194/tc-9-2071-2015 · 5.52 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Climate change and anthropogenic factors can alter biodiversity and lead to changes in community structure and function. Despite the potential impacts, no long-term records of climatic influences on microbial communities exist. The Tibetan Plateau is a highly sensitive region that is currently undergoing significant alteration resulting from both climate change and increased human activity. Ice cores from glaciers in this region serve as unique natural archives of bacterial abundance and community composition, and contain concomitant records of climate and environmental change. We report high-resolution profiles of bacterial density and community composition over the past half-century in ice cores from three glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau. Statistical analysis showed that the bacterial community composition in the three ice cores converged starting in the 1990s. Changes in bacterial community composition were related to changing precipitation, increasing air temperature and anthropogenic activities in the vicinity of the Plateau. Collectively, our ice core data on bacteria in concert with environmental and anthropogenic proxies indicate that the convergence of bacterial communities deposited on glaciers across a wide geographical area and situated in diverse habitat types was likely induced by climatic and anthropogenic drivers.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mass balance history (1980–2010) of a monsoon-dominated glacier in the southeast Tibetan Plateau is reconstructed using an energy balance model and later interpreted with regard to macroscale atmospheric variables. The results show that this glacier is characterized by significant interannual mass fluctuations over the past three decades, with a remarkably high mass loss during the recent period of 2003–2010. Analysis of the relationships between glacier mass balance and climatic variables shows that interannual temperature variability in the monsoonal season (June–September) is a primary driver of its mass balance fluctuations, but monsoonal precipitation tends to play an accentuated role for driving the observed glacier mass changes due to their covariation (concurrence of warm/dry and cold/wet climates) in the monsoon-influenced southeast Tibetan Plateau. Analysis of the atmospheric circulation pattern reveals that the predominance of anticyclonic/cyclonic circulations prevailing in the southeastern/northern Tibetan Plateau during 2003–2010 contributes to increased air temperature and decreased precipitation in the southeast Tibetan Plateau. Regionally contrasting atmospheric circulations explain the distinct mass changes between in the monsoon-influenced southeast Tibetan Plateau and in the north Tibetan Plateau/Tien Shan Mountains during 2003–2010. The macroscale climate change seems to be linked with the Europe-Asia teleconnection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This project launched the first study to compare the stable isotopes (δ18O and δD) in daily precipitation at Kathmandu (located on the southern slope of the central Himalayas) and Tingri (located on the northern slope). The results show that low δ18O and δD values of summer precipitation at the two stations were closely related to intense convection of the Indian monsoon. However, summer δ18O and δD values at Tingri were lower than those at Kathmandu, a result of the lift effect of the Himalayas, coupled with convection disturbances and lower temperatures at Tingri. In winter, the relatively high δ18O and δD values at the two stations appears to have resulted from the influence of the westerlies. Compared with those during the summer, the subsidence of the westerlies and northerly winds resulted in relatively high δ18O and δD values of the winter precipitation at Tingri. Winter δ18O and δD values at Kathmandu far exceeded those at Tingri, due to more intense advection of the southern branch of the westerlies, and higher temperatures and relative humidity at Kathmandu. The detailed differences in stable isotopes between the two stations follow short-term variability in the onset date of the Indian monsoon and its retreat across the central Himalayas. During the sampling period, the Indian monsoon onset at Tingri occurred approximately 1 week later than that at Kathmandu. However, the retreat at Tingri began roughly 3 days earlier. Clearly, the duration of the Indian monsoon effects last longer at Kathmandu than that at Tingri. Our findings also indicate that the India monsoon travels slowly northward across the central Himalayas due to the blocking of the Himalayas, but retreats quickly.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: With global warming, hazards relating to glacial melt, such as glacial lake outburst floods, are becoming progressively more serious. However, glacial melt processes and their hydrological consequences are very poorly understood. This study collected glacier discharge data from the terminus of the Parlung No. 4 Glacier throughout the melt season (May to October) during 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2012 to study its specific hydrological characteristics. Time series and multivariate regression analyses were employed to investigate the relationships between discharge and meteorological factors involved, as well as their correlation to discharge estimations. The 0–3 day time series analysis showed that discharge rates were highly auto-correlated and that discharge was significantly positively correlated to air temperature, vapor pressure, and daily incoming shortwave radiation, as well as weakly positively correlated to precipitation. A multiple regression exponential model using the independent variables of the daily mean temperature and the vapor pressure exclusively was applied to simulate daily discharge in the basin with a high degree of accuracy. On average, July yielded the maximum monthly mean discharge, followed by August. Discharge in July and August accounted for 53% of the total discharge during the main melt season. The daily cycle of discharge changed as the melt season progressed, reflecting hydrological processes and characteristics of snow melt and glacier ice/snow melt, as well as their transitional periods. Subsequently, regular variations in the characteristics of the diurnal cycle of discharge, storage, and delay were observed as the melt season progressed. In addition, the reasons behind inter-annual variation in the characteristics of discharge and glacier discharge from the Tibetan Plateau (TP) and its surrounding areas are compared and discussed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Two ice cores were retrieved from high elevations (~5800 m a.s.l.) at Mt. Nyainqêntanglha and Mt. Geladaindong in the southern and central Tibetan Plateau region. The combined tracer analysis of tritium (3H), 210Pb and mercury, along with other chemical records, provided multiple lines of evidence supporting that the two coring sites had not received net ice accumulation since at least the 1950s and 1980s, respectively. These results implied an annual ice loss rate of more than several hundred millimeter water equivalent over the past 30–60 years. Both mass balance modeling at the sites and in situ data from the nearby glaciers confirmed a continuously negative mass balance (or mass loss) in the region due to dramatic warming in recent decades. Along with a recent report on Naimona'nyi Glacier in the Himalayas, the findings suggest that the loss of accumulation area of glacier is a possibility from the southern to central Tibetan Plateau at high elevations, probably up to about 5800 m a.s.l. This mass loss raises concerns over the rapid rate of glacier ice loss and associated changes in surface glacier runoff, water availability, and sea levels.
The Cryosphere 06/2015; 9(3):1213-1222. DOI:10.5194/tc-9-1213-2015 · 5.52 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: No glacial lake census exists for the Third Pole region, which includes the Pamir-Hindu Kush-Karakoram-Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau. Therefore, comprehensive information is lacking about the distribution of and changes in glacial lakes caused by current global warming conditions. In this study, the first glacial lake inventories for the Third Pole were conducted for ~ 1990, 2000, and 2010 using Landsat TM/ETM + data. Glacial lake spatial distributions, corresponding areas and temporal changes were examined. The significant results are as follows. (1) There were 4602, 4981, and 5701 glacial lakes (> 0.003 km2) covering areas of 553.9 ± 90, 581.2 ± 97, and 682.4 ± 110 km2 in ~ 1990, 2000, and 2010, respectively; these lakes are primarily located in the Brahmaputra (39%), Indus (28%), and Amu Darya (10%) basins. (2) Small lakes (< 0.2 km2) are more sensitive to climate changes. (3) Lakes closer to glaciers and at higher altitudes, particularly those connected to glacier termini, have undergone larger area changes. (4) Glacier-fed lakes are dominant in both quantity and area (> 70%) and exhibit faster expansion trends overall compared to non-glacier-fed lakes. We conclude that glacier meltwater may play a dominant role in the areal expansion of most glacial lakes in the Third Pole. In addition, the patterns of the glacier-fed lakes correspond well with warming temperature trends and negative glacier mass balance patterns. This paper presents an important database of glacial lakes and provides a basis for long-term monitoring and evaluation of outburst flood disasters primarily caused by glacial lakes in the Third Pole.
Global and Planetary Change 06/2015; 131. DOI:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2015.05.013 · 2.77 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The long range atmospheric transport of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) from heavily polluted regions to remote areas has been well-known. However, there are limited studies focusing on the Tibetan Plateau (TP). To assess the temporal transport patterns of PAHs and particulate matters (PMs), a ground-based observation program (2008−2011) was conducted in the southeast TP. Relatively high atmospheric concentrations of particulate-PAHs (0.2-5.0 ng m-3, sum of 15 compounds) and Total suspended Particles (TSP, 4.1 - 46.7 μg m-3) were observed. Concentrations of particulate-PAHs/TSP exhibited seasonality with higher levels in the winter-spring season and lower levels in summer. Using the potential source contribution function model, the source region of both particulate-PAHs and particles was attributed to the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP), suggesting the co-transport of particulate-PAHs and aerosols. The aerosol incursion, penetrating the Himalayas and reaching the TP was further captured by Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer and Cloud-Aerosol Lidar Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An accurate representation of the spatiotemporal variation of stable isotopes in precipitation over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) is critical information for hydrological and ecological applications for the region. This paper reconstructs annual δ18O data with 2.5° × 3.75° latitude-longitude resolutions over the TP since 1910 using the spectral optimal gridding (SOG) method. The SOG calculates empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs) from the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique isotopic version general circulation model over the TP from 1978 to 2007 and regresses the δ18O data of 10 ice cores over TP against the EOF basis functions. The reconstructed data can effectively demonstrate spatiotemporal characteristics of TP precipitation δ18O. The spatial average interannual δ18O anomalies agree well with the time series of Guliya ice core δ18O, implying Guliya δ18O's typical representation of the TP δ18O temporal variation.
Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres 05/2015; 120(10):n/a-n/a. DOI:10.1002/2015JD023233 · 3.43 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tibetan glaciers experience spatially heterogeneous changes, which call for further investigation of the mechanisms responsible from an energy and mass perspective. In this study, 2 year parallel observations (August 2010–July 2012) at 5665 m a.s.l. on Zhadang glacier (a subcontinental glacier) and 5202 m a.s.l. on Parlung No. 4 glacier (a maritime glacier) were used to reveal the drivers of surface energy and mass balance at these sites. Glacio-meteorological data show that air temperature and specific humidity were 1.7°C and 0.5 g kg–1 lower on Zhadang glacier than on Parlung No. 4 glacier. The mass accumulation occurred primarily before the Indian summer monsoon onset on Parlung No. 4 glacier and after its onset on Zhadang glacier. Point net mass loss was 2.5 times larger on Parlung No. 4 glacier than on Zhadang glacier, mainly due to the difference in melt energy. Overall, the physical mechanisms controlling the mass and energy difference can be attributed to both the feedback role of surface albedo through different snow accumulation characteristics and longwave radiation emission of the atmosphere due to different meteorological backgrounds. Finally, a review of the few studies dealing with energy balance on the Tibetan glaciers describes the possible spatial characteristics requiring further investigation in the future on larger spatial and temporal scales.
Journal of Glaciology 04/2015; 61(227):595-607. DOI:10.3189/2015JoG14J206 · 3.24 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Precipitation isotopologues recorded in natural archives from the southern Tibetan Plateau may document past variations of Indian monsoon intensity. The exact processes controlling the variability of precipitation isotopologue composition must therefore first be deciphered and understood. This study investigates how atmospheric convection affects the summer variability of δ 18O in precipitation (δ 18O p ) and δD in water vapor (δ D v ) at the daily scale. This is achieved using isotopic data from precipitation samples at Lhasa, isotopic measurements of water vapor retrieved from satellites (Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES), GOSAT) and atmospheric general circulation modeling. We reveal that both δ 18O p and δ D v at Lhasa are well correlated with upstream convective activity, especially above northern India. First, during days of strong convection, northern India surface air contains large amounts of vapor with relatively low δ D v . Second, when this low‐δ D v moisture is uplifted toward southern Tibet, this initial depletion in HDO is further amplified by Rayleigh distillation as the vapor moves over the Himalayan. The intraseasonal variability of the isotopologue composition of vapor and precipitation over the southern Tibetan Plateau results from these processes occurring during air mass transportation. Upstream convection controls isotopic compositionIsotopic composition is more influenced by encountered convectionCondensation over foothill is the most important process
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent mass balance measurements indicate a slight mass gain at Muztag Ata in the Eastern Pamir. We extend these measurements both in space and time by using remote sensing data and present four decades of glacier variations in the entire mountain massif. Geodetic mass-balances and area changes were determined at glacier scale from stereo satellite imagery and derived Digital Elevation Models (DEMs). This includes Hexagon KH-9 (year 1973), ALOS-PRISM (2009), Pléiades (2013) and Landsat 7 ETM+ data in conjunction with the SRTM-3 DEM (2000). In addition, surface velocities of Kekesayi Glacier, the largest glacier at Muztag Ata, were derived from TerraSAR-X amplitude tracking. Locally, we observed strong spatial and temporal variations during the last four decades, which were, however, on average not significant for the entire massif. Some south-west exposed glaciers fluctuated or advanced, while glaciers with other aspects rather experienced continuous shrinkage. Several glaciers such as Kekesayi indicate no visual change at their frontal position, but clear down-wasting despite mostly thick debris coverage at low altitudes. The surface velocity of this largest debris-covered glacier of the massif reach up to 20 cm per day, but its distal part of the tongue appears to be stagnant. The low velocity or even stagnancy at the tongue is likely one reason for the down-wasting. On average, the glaciers showed a small, insignificant shrinkage from 274.3 ± 10.6 km2 in 1973 to 272.7 ± 1.0 km2 in 2013 (−0.02 ± 0.1% a−1). Average mass changes in the range of −0.03 ± 0.33 m w.e. a−1 (1973–2009) to −0.01 ± 0.30 m w.e. a−1 (1973–2013) reveal nearly balanced budgets for the last forty years. Indications of slightly positive trends after 1999 (+0.04 ± 0.27 m w.e. a−1) are confirmed by in-situ measurements.
The Cryosphere Discussions 03/2015; 9(2):1811-1856. DOI:10.5194/tcd-9-1811-2015
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The transition from the Last Glacial to the current Interglacial, the Holocene, represents an important period with climatic and environmental changes impacting ecosystems. In this study, we examined the interplay between the Indian Ocean Summer Monsoon (IOSM) and the Westerlies at lake Nam Co, southern Tibet to understand the climatic effects on the ecosystem. Different organic geochemical proxies (n-alkanes, glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers, δD, δ13Corg, δ15N) are applied to reconstruct the environmental and hydrological changes on one of the longest available paleorecords at the Tibetan Plateau. Based on our paleohydrological δD proxies, the aquatic signal lags the terrestrial one due to specific ecological thresholds, which, in addition to climatic changes, can influence aquatic organisms. The aquatic organisms' response strongly depends on temperature and associated lake size, as well as pH and nutrient availability. Because the terrestrial vegetation reacts faster and more sensitively to changes in the monsoonal and climatic system, the δD of n-C29 and the reconstructed inflow water signal represent an appropriate IOSM proxy. In general, the interplay of the different air masses seems to be primarily controlled by solar insolation. In the Holocene, the high insolation generates a large land-ocean pressure gradient associated with strong monsoonal winds and the strongest IOSM. In the Last Glacial period, however, the weak insolation promoted the Westerlies, thereby increasing their influence at the Tibetan Plateau. Our results help to elucidate the variable IOSM, and they illustrate a remarkable shift in the lake system regarding pH, δ13Corg and δ15N from the Last Glacial to the Holocene interglacial period.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Based on 20-year (1985–2004) records of surface-air-temperature at 16 stations between the elevations of 3553 m and 4801 m a.s.l. in the southeastern Tibetan Plateau (or the northern slopes of the eastern Himalayas), this paper examines the monthly, seasonal and annual characteristics of near-surface temperature lapse rates (TLRs). A linear regression model was fitted for the lapse rate calculation. The annual cycle of the TLR shows a distinct seasonal pattern, i.e. steepest in winter and shallowest in summer. Results are partially consistent with those from the southern slopes of the central Himalayas, in particular in summer, and correspond to the warm, rainy and humid season. In response to the monsoonal effect, the released latent heat of water vapour condensation causes an increase in air temperature at higher elevations. Therefore, the TLR is shallowest in the summer. The considerable amount of solar radiation at higher elevations also causes a reduction of the TLR in this season. The lowest diurnal range of lapse rates for summer is associated with lower diurnal variability in net radiation due to cloud cover and relative humidity. The steepest TLR occurs in winter in association with intense cooling at higher elevations, corresponding to the continental dry and cold air surges, and considerable snow-temperature feedback. Lower insolation, deeper snow cover and a weaker inversion effect cause a lower diurnal range of TLR in this season. The observed contrast of winter TLR from the northern to southern slopes of the Himalayas is due to differences in elevation and topography, as well as the pronounced effect of cold air surges.
International Journal of Climatology 02/2015; DOI:10.1002/joc.4297 · 3.16 Impact Factor