Simulation of the Decadal Permafrost Distribution on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (China) over the Past 50 Years

Authors

  • Cheng Weiming,

    Corresponding author
    • State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Zhao Shangmin,

    1. Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
    2. Department of Surveying and Mapping, College of Mining Technology, Taiyuan University of Technology, Taiyuan, China
    3. Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Zhou Chenghu,

    1. State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Chen Xi

    1. Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
    Search for more papers by this author

C. Weiming, State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China. E-mail: chengwm@lreis.ac.cn

ABSTRACT

Decadal changes in permafrost distribution on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP) over the past 50 years (1960–2009) were simulated with a response model that uses data from a digital elevation model, mean annual air temperature (MAAT) and the vertical lapse rate of temperature. Compared with published maps of permafrost distribution, the accuracy of the simulated results is about 85 per cent. The simulation results show: (1) with the continuously rising MAAT over the past 50 years, the simulated areas of permafrost on the QTP have continuously decreased; (2) through areal statistics, the simulated areas of permafrost were 1.60 × 106 km2, 1.49 × 106 km2, 1.45 × 106 km2, 1.36 × 106 km2 and 1.27 × 106 km2, respectively, in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s; and (3) the rate of permafrost loss has accelerated since the 1980s, and the total area of degraded permafrost is about 3.3 × 105 km2, which accounts for about one-fifth of the total area of permafrost in the 1960s. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Ancillary