Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 74, Issue 3, pp 2019–2028 | Cite as

Summer hydrological characteristics in glacier and non-glacier catchments in the Nam Co Basin, southern Tibetan Plateau

  • Tanguang GaoEmail author
  • Shichang KangEmail author
  • Tingjun Zhang
  • Shiqiao Zhou
  • Lan Cuo
  • Mika Sillanpää
  • Yulan Zhang
Thematic Issue


Distribution of glaciers in Tibetan Plateau (TP) has been reduced during the last decades under the global warming. Understanding the hydrological features related to glacier melt is crucial for future water resource assessment as glaciers are largely experiencing strong retreat. Summer hydrological characteristics for three various scale catchments with or without glacier coverage in the Nam Co Basin over the TP for a 2-year period were investigated in this work. Angqu catchment, the largest catchment in the Nam Co Basin with a drainage area of 1479 km2, is located in the west of Nam Co Basin and mainly supplied by precipitation and snowmelt. Niyaqu catchment is located in the eastern Nam Co Basin with 388 km2, and its discharge is mainly supplied by precipitation and groundwater. Qugaqie catchment occupied the southern Nam Co Basin (59 km2) is a typical glacier melting supplied river. During the summer (May–September), precipitation was 533, 564, and 503 mm in Angqu, Niyaqu, and Qugaqie catchments, during 2007 and 2008, respectively. Not only the amount but also the seasonality of precipitation is different at the three catchments. In summer of 2007 and 2008, runoff was 29 and 164 mm, respectively, in Angqu; 77 and 341 mm, respectively, for Niyaqu, and 658 and 797 mm, respectively, for Qugaqie. At Niyaqu and Qugaqie, 59 and 72 % of the runoff variation was accounted by precipitation, respectively. Although there were no significant correlations between runoff and air temperature for Niyaqu and Qugaqie basins, the impact of glacier melting on the Qugaqie runoff was observed in summer.


Climate Glacier melting Runoff Nam Co Basin Tibetan Plateau 



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41121001, 41190081), the Global Change Research Program of China (2013CBA01801), Chinese Academy of Sciences (KJZD-EW-G03-04), Academy of Finland (decision number 268170), and Open fund by Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Environment Monitoring and Pollution Control (KHK1410), a Project Funded by the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD). We also thank the staff of Nam Co Station for the observations.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tanguang Gao
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shichang Kang
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Tingjun Zhang
    • 1
  • Shiqiao Zhou
    • 4
  • Lan Cuo
    • 4
  • Mika Sillanpää
    • 5
  • Yulan Zhang
    • 2
    • 6
  1. 1.College of Earth and Environmental SciencesLanzhou UniversityLanzhouChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research InstituteChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina
  3. 3.CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environmental Change and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau ResearchCASBeijingChina
  5. 5.Laboratory of Green ChemistryLappeenranta University of TechnologyMikkeliFinland
  6. 6.Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Environment Monitoring and Pollution Control (AEMPC), School of Environmental Sciences and EngineeringNanjing University of Information Science and TechnologyNanjingChina

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