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Geophysical Research Letters

Increased mass over the Tibetan Plateau: From lakes or glaciers?

Authors

  • Guoqing Zhang,

    Corresponding author
    1. Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environmental Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    2. Jiangxi Province Key Laboratory for Digital Land, East China Institute of Technology, Nanchang, Jiangxi, China
    • Corresponding author: G. Zhang, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Bldg. 3, Courtyard 16, Lincui Rd., Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China. (guoqing.zhang2009@gmail.com); H. Xie, Laboratory for Remote Sensing and Geoinformatics, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78249, USA. (hongjie.xie@utsa.edu)

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  • Tandong Yao,

    1. Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environmental Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
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  • Hongjie Xie,

    1. Laboratory for Remote Sensing and Geoinformatics, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, USA
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  • Shichang Kang,

    1. Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environmental Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
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  • Yanbin Lei

    1. Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environmental Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
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Abstract

[1] The mass balance in the Inner Tibet Plateau (ITP) derived from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) showed a positive rate that was attributed to the glacier mass gain, whereas glaciers in the region, from other field-based studies, showed an overall mass loss. In this study, we examine lake's water level and mass changes in the Tibetan Plateau (TP) and suggest that the increased mass measured by GRACE was predominately due to the increased water mass in lakes. For the 200 lakes in the TP with 4 to 7 years of ICESat data available, the mean lake level and total mass change rates were +0.14 m/yr and +4.95 Gt/yr, respectively. Compared those in the TP, 118 lakes in the ITP showed higher change rates (+0.20 m/yr and +4.28 Gt/yr), accounting for 59% area and 86% mass increase of the 200 lakes. The lake's mass increase rate in the ITP explains the 61% increased mass (~7 Gt/yr) derived from GRACE [Jacob et al., 2012], while it only accounts for 53% of the total lake area in the ITP.

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