Recent geodetic mass balance and extent changes of very small glaciers in the Hulugou Basin, Central Qilian Mountains, China

  • Chunhai XuEmail author
  • Zhongqin Li
  • Feiteng Wang
  • Lin Ha
  • Yousif Elnour Yagoub
  • Shuang Jin


Very small glaciers (\({<}0.5\,\hbox {km}^{2})\) account for more than 70% of the total number of glaciers in the Qilian Mountains. Despite their total area and volume being small, they are important water resources in the Hexi Corridor. While glacier monitoring mostly focuses on medium-sized and large valley glaciers (e.g., Qiyi Glacier and Laohugou Glacier No. 12) in the Qilian Mountains, little is known about very small glacier mass balance in this region. This study presents a geodetic mass balance of six very small glaciers in the Hulugou Basin by comparing Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) C-band (2000) and airborne laser scanning (2012) digital elevation models (DEMs). The total glaciers’ area decreased by 23.6% at a rate of \(0.024~\hbox {km}^{2}\) \(\hbox {a}^{-1}\) and the geodetic mass balance was \(-0.68\pm 0.11~\hbox {m}\) water equivalent (m w.e.) \(\hbox {a}^{-1}\) from 2000 to 2012. Shiyi Glacier, as the monitored glacier in the Basin, had lost 10.9% of the surface area at a rate of \(0.005~\hbox {km}^{2}\) \(\hbox {a}^{-1}\) and the geodetic mass balance was \(-0.53\pm 0.11~\hbox {m}\) w.e. \(\hbox {a}^{-1}\) for the period. Climatic variations over the last decade showed a pronounced increase in summer temperatures. The warmer conditions probably explain the glaciers mass loss observed in the Hulugou Basin.


Geodetic mass balance ALS point cloud SRTM C-band DEM very small glaciers Hulugou Basin 



This study was supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA2006020103), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 91425303; 41471058; 41721091), the Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences of Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. QYZDB-SSW-SYS024) and the West Light Program for Talent Cultivation of Chinese Academy of Sciences. We are very grateful to USGS (US Geological Survey) for the Landsat images and SRTM C-band DEM and China Meteorological Data Sharing Service System for meteorological data. We also thank the Cold and Arid Regions Sciences Data Center at Lanzhou for the ALS point cloud data.


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Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chunhai Xu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Zhongqin Li
    • 1
  • Feiteng Wang
    • 1
  • Lin Ha
    • 3
  • Yousif Elnour Yagoub
    • 1
    • 4
  • Shuang Jin
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Science/Tien Shan Glaciological Station, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and ResourcesChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.School of Geographical SciencesSouthwestern UniversityChongqingChina
  4. 4.Department of Forest Protection and Conservation, Faculty of ForestryUniversity of KhartoumShambatSudan

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