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Lake change and its implication in the vicinity of Mt. Qomolangma (Everest), central high Himalayas, 1970–2009

Abstract

High-elevation inland lakes are a sensitive indicator of climate change. The extents of lakes in Mt. Qomolangma region have been extracted using the object-based image-processing method providing 6–24 images during 1970–2009. Combined with data from five meteorological stations and three periods’ glacier data, the inter-annual and intra-annual lake changes and responses to climate and glacier change have been analyzed. The results show that the lakes have shrunk overall, with clear inter-annual and intra-annual fluctuations during 1970–2009. In general, there appeared a trend of slight shrinkage in the 1970s, distinct shrinkage around 1990, general expansion in 2000 and accelerated decrease after 2000. Lake Peiku and neighboring lakes show a highly consistent change trend (correlation coefficients of 0.68–0.91), with larger lakes having smaller shrinkage rates, which implies a higher stability (in the order of Peiku > Langqiang > Cuochuolong). Lake Peiku, the largest lake, decreased 10.38 km2 (3.69 % or 0.27 km2 year−1) during 1970–2009. The changes in Lake Peiku indicate that precipitation is its main source of supply with glacier melt water a key supplement. Meanwhile, Lake Como Chamling reduced by 13.12 km2 (19.79 %) during 1974–2007, with strong shrinkage–expansion–shrinkage–expansion fluctuations. Overall, lakes in the vicinity of Mt. Qomolangma are a sensitive good indicator to climate change.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported in part by the National Basic Research Program of China (Grant No. 2010CB951704), Institutional Consolidation for the Coordinated and Integrated Monitoring of Natural Resources towards Sustainable Development and Environmental Conservation in the Hindu Kush–Karakoram–Himalaya Mountain Complex, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 40901057 and 41101082) and the Foundation of IMHE for Young Scientists. The authors would like to thank Prof. Rongfu Huang of Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology of CAS, Mr. Gama from State Qomolangma Administration in Xigaze, Mr. Zhizhong Wang, Mr. Pubuzhaxi and Mr. Cirenduoji of Tingri County, Mr. Yajun of Nyalam County, Mr. Cisang and Mr. Daqiong of Gyirong County, Mr. Suolang of Dinggye County for their support and enthusiastic help during the field survey; and give many thanks to Ms. Qinqin Zhang, Ms. Yingying Wu, PhD Xueru, Zhang, PhD Jiping, Zhang of the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences for their advice in the process of research and writing.

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Correspondence to Yili Zhang.

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Nie, Y., Zhang, Y., Ding, M. et al. Lake change and its implication in the vicinity of Mt. Qomolangma (Everest), central high Himalayas, 1970–2009. Environ Earth Sci 68, 251–265 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-012-1736-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-012-1736-6

Keywords

  • Lake change
  • Everest
  • Qomolangma
  • Remote sensing
  • Climate change
  • Glacier