Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 375–379 | Cite as

Identification of ice elevation change of the Shuiguan River No. 4 glacier in the Qilian Mountains, China

  • Jing Li
  • Shiyin LiuEmail author
  • Donghui Shangguan
  • Yinsong Zhang


GPS measurement, an effective method for surveying glacier surface topography, has been applied in some glaciers for many years. The Shuiguan River No. 4 glacier, a small glacier with its area of 1.84 km2 in 1972, located in the east of the Qilian Mountains, China, was selected to study its ice elevation change using GPS measurement in 2007. This study was conducted on the ablation area with GPS-measured area 0.5 km2. The ice elevation change of the glacier was obtained by comparing the DEM obtained by a 1:50 000 topographic map made in 1972 with the DEM by GPS-measured data acquired in 2007. The differences of the two DEMs showed the thinning condition of the glacier was apparent. The mean thinning was 15±8 m with the mean thinning rate of 0.42±0.22 m a−1 for 1972–2007 in the measurement area, which equaled 0.38±0.20 m yr−1 in water equivalent (w.e.). The prominent thinning occurred on the south part of the glacier, which was the area near the glacier terminus with the maximum thinning of 41±8 m. Assuming the thinning value of 15±8 m for the glacier area below 4640 m a.s.l., the wasting ice mass was calculated to be 6.4±3.2×10−3 km3 for 1972–2007, corresponding to 5.7±2.8×10−3 km3 w.e., which meant that the montane runoff released by the glacier was at least 5.7±2.8×106 m3 between 1972–2007.


GPS RTK DEM Glacier mass balance Mountane runoff 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jing Li
    • 1
  • Shiyin Liu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Donghui Shangguan
    • 1
  • Yinsong Zhang
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research InstituteChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina

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