Variations in the northern permafrost boundary over the last four decades in the Xidatan region, Qinghai–Tibet Plateau
The distribution and variations of permafrost in the Xidatan region, the northern permafrost boundary of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, were examined and analyzed using ground penetrating radar (GPR), borehole drilling, and thermal monitoring data. Results from GPR profiles together with borehole verification indicate that the lowest elevation limit of permafrost occurrence is 4369 m above sea level in 2012. Compared to previous studies, the maximal rise of permafrost limit is 28 m from 1975 to 2012. The total area of permafrost in the study region has been decreased by 13.8%. One of the two previously existed permafrost islands has disappeared and second one has reduced by 76% in area during the past ~40 years. In addition, the ground temperature in the Xidatan region has increased from 2012 to 2016, with a mean warming rate of ~0.004°C a−1 and ~0.003°C a−1 at the depths of 6 and 15 m, respectively. The rising of permafrost limit in the Xidatan region is mainly due to global warming. However, some non-climatic factors such as hydrologic processes and anthropic disturbances have also induced permafrost degradation. If the air temperature continues to increase, the northern permafrost boundary in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau may continue rising in the future.
KeywordsQinghai-Tibet Plateau Permafrost Climate warming Permafrost limit Ground penetrating radar Thermal monitoring
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 41601069), the State Key Program of National Natural Science of China (Grant No. 41730640) and the Independent Project of the State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soils Engineering (SKLFSEZT-32 and SKLFSE-ZQ-37).
- Cheng GD (1984) Problems on Zonation of High-altitudinal Permafrost. Acta Geogr Sinica 39 (2): 185–193 (In Chinese). https://doi.org/10.11821/xb198402006Google Scholar
- Cheng GD, Wu TH (2007) Responses of permafrost to climate change and their environmental significance, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 112 (F02S03). https://doi.org/10.1029/2006JF000631Google Scholar
- Dallimore SR, Davis JL (1987) Ground-probing radar investigations of massive ground ice and near surface geology in continuous permafrost. Current Research, Part A, Geological Survey of Canada, Paper 87-1A. pp 913–918.Google Scholar
- Guo DL, Wang HJ (2013) Simulation of permafrost and seasonally frozen ground conditions on the Tibetan Plateau, 1981-2010. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 118 (11): 5216–5230. https://doi.org/10.1002/jgrd.50457Google Scholar
- Haeberli W (1985) Creep of Mountain Permafrost: Internal Structure and Flow of Alpine Rock Glaciers. Mitteilungen der Versuchsanstaltfür Wasserbau, Hydrologie und Glaziologie. p 139.Google Scholar
- Jol HM (2009) Ground Penetrating Radar. Theory and Applications. Elsevier. p 544.Google Scholar
- Milsom J (2003) Field Geophysics, Third Edition. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 244 p.Google Scholar
- Nan ZT, Gao ZS, Li SX, et al. (2003) Permafrost changes in the northern limit of permafrost on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in the last 30 years. Acta Geography Sinica 58 (6): 817–823. (In Chinese) https://doi.org/10.11821/xb200306003Google Scholar
- Onaca A, Ardelean AC, Urdea P, et al. (2015) Detection of mountain permafrost by combining conventional geophysical methods and thermal monitoring in the Retezat Mountains, Romania. Cold Regions Science and Technology 119: 111–123. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.coldregions.2015.08.001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Otto JC, Keuschnig M, Götz J, et al. (2012) Detection of mountain permafrost by combining high resolution surface and subsurface information - an example from the Glatzbach catchment, Austrian Alps. Physical Geography 94: 43–57. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0459.2012.00455.xGoogle Scholar
- Riseborough DW (1990) Soil latent heat as a filter of the climatesignal in permafrost, Proceedings of the Fifth Canadian Permafrost Conference, Collection Nordicana No. 54, UniversiteLaval, Québec. pp 199–205.Google Scholar
- Wu QB, Zhang TJ (2008) Recent permafrost warming on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 113 (D13). https://doi.org/10.1029/2007JD 009539Google Scholar
- Wu SH, Yin YH, Zheng D, et al. (2005a) Climate changes in the Tibetan Plateau during the last three decades. Acta Geography Sinica 60 (1): 3–11. (In Chinese).Google Scholar
- Xu XM, Zhang ZQ, Wu QB (2016) Simulation of permafrost changes on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, China, over the past three decades. International Journal of Digital Earth 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/17538947.2016.1237571Google Scholar
- Yue GY, Zhao L, Zhao YH, et al. (2013) Relationship between soil properties in permafrost active layer and surface vegetation in Xidatan on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Journal Glaciology and Geocryology 35 (3): 565–573. (In Chinese) https://doi. org/10.7522/j.issn.1000-0240.2013.0065Google Scholar
- Zhao SM, Cheng WM, Chai HX, et al. (2007) Research on the Information Extraction Method of Periglacial Geomorphology on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Based on Remote Sensing and SRTM: A Case Study of 1: 1, 000, 000 Lhasa Map Sheet (H46).” Gegraphical Research 26: 1175–1185. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
- Zhou YW, Guo DX, Qiu GQ (2000) Permafrost in China. Science Press, Beijing, China. p 106. (In Chinese)Google Scholar