Variations of the glacier mass balance and lake water storage in the Tarim Basin, northwest China, over the period of 2003–2009 estimated by the ICESat-GLAS data
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Accurately estimating the changes in glacier mass balance and water storage in lakes and reservoirs is critical to studying the water cycle in the inland river basin in northwest China. We used high-resolution satellite images to analyze the changes in water surface area of lakes and reservoirs in Tarim Basin, and used the ICESat-GLAS altimeter data to estimate their water level changes and the glacier mass balance change, over the period 2003–2009. The results showed the average glacier thinning in the entire basin was at a rate of 0.34 ± 0.25 m w.e./year equivalent height of water, which means that the glacier mass balance occurred −6.8 ± 1.2 km3 water equivalent over the study period. However, the mean water level of nearby lakes decreased by 0.41 ± 0.2 m even with the influx of glacial melt water, indicating that the lake level declines were caused by the withdrawal of lake water for human activities.
KeywordsICESat-GLAS Glacier mass balance Elevation change Tarim Basin Lakes water storage
This study was completed with the support of the National Natural Science Foundation Project of China (Grant No. 41190084) and the Strategic Science and Technology Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (grant No. XDB03030204). We thank Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales (LEGOS, HYDROWEB: http://www.legos.obs-mip.fr/en) in Toulouse for providing the Bosten, Top lakes monitoring data, as well as the U.S. Geological Survey providing hydrographic mapping product with HydroSHEDS data (http://www.hydrosheds.cr.usgs.gov/index.php) and Landsat TM/ETM imageries (http://www.earthexplorer.usgs.gov/). Furthermore, the authors should like to thank four anonymous reviewers and editors for these massive suggestions and various efforts. We also thank Prof. F.G. Lemoine from Planetary Geodynamics Laboratory, NASA GSFC for giving the technological supports on the times series of lake water level weekly using GLAS altimeter data from 2003 to 2009 for ITRF2008 information. We thank J.F. Crétaux for having available ERS-2/ENVISAT altimetry data of lakes on the studies.
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