Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 344–357 | Cite as

Glacier changes during the past 40 years in the West Kunlun Shan

  • Wei-jia Bao
  • Shi-yin Liu
  • Jun-feng Wei
  • Wan-qin Guo


Recent studies on glaciers in the West Kunlun Shan, northwest Tibetan Plateau, have shown that they may be stable or retreating slightly. Here, we assess changes in the mass of the glaciers in the West Kunlun Shan (WKS) in an attempt to understand the processes that control their behavior. Glaciers over the recent 40 years (1970–2010) have shrunk 3.4±3.1% in area, based on a comparison between two Chinese glacier inventories. Variations of surface elevations, derived from ICESat-GLAS (Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-Geoscience Laser Altimeter System) elevation products (GLA14 data) using the robust linear-fit method, indicate that the glaciers have been gaining mass at a rate of 0.23±0.24 m w.e./a since 2003. The annual mass budget for the whole WKS range from 2003 to 2009 is estimated to be 0.71±0.62 Gt/a. This gain trend is confirmed by MOD10A1 albedo for the WKS region which shows a descent of the mean snowline altitude from 2003 to 2009.


Glacier change Mass balance West Kunlun Shan 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wei-jia Bao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shi-yin Liu
    • 1
  • Jun-feng Wei
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wan-qin Guo
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research InstituteChinese Academy of ScienceLanzhouChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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