Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 330–343 | Cite as

Mass loss from glaciers in the Chinese Altai Mountains between 1959 and 2008 revealed based on historical maps, SRTM, and ASTER images

  • Jun-feng Wei
  • Shi-yin LiuEmail author
  • Jun-li Xu
  • Wan-qin Guo
  • Wei-jia Bao
  • Dong-hui Shangguan
  • Zong-li Jiang


Mass loss of glaciers in the Chinese Altai was detected using geodetic methods based on topographical maps (1959), the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) Digital Elevation Model (DEM) (2000), and the Advanced Space-borne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) stereo images (2008). The results indicate that a continued and accelerating shrinkage has occurred in the Chinese Altai Mountains during the last 50 years, with mass deficits of 0.43 ± 0.02 and 0.54 ± 0.13 m a−1 water equivalent (w.e.) during the periods 1959–1999 and 1999–2008, respectively. Overall, the Chinese Altai Mountains have lost 7.06 ± 0.44 km3 in ice volume (equivalent to −0.43 ± 0.03 m a−1 w.e.) from 1959–2008. The spatial heterogeneity in mass loss was potentially affected by comprehensive changes in temperature and precipitation, and had a substantial correlation with glacier size and topographic settings. Comparison shows that in the Chinese Altai Mountains glaciers have experienced a more rapid mass loss than those in the Tianshan and northwestern Tibetan Plateau (TP), and the mass balance of glaciers was slightly less negative relative to those in the Russian Altai, Himalaya, and southern TP.


Altai Mountains Geodetic method Glacier change Mass balance 


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jun-feng Wei
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shi-yin Liu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jun-li Xu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wan-qin Guo
    • 1
  • Wei-jia Bao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dong-hui Shangguan
    • 1
    • 3
  • Zong-li Jiang
    • 4
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research InstituteChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of GeographyUniversity of ZürichZürichSwitzerland
  4. 4.Hunan Province Key Laboratory of Coal Resources Clean-Utilization and Mine Environment ProtectionHunan University of Science and TechnologyXiangtanChina

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