Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2020-378
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2020-378

  12 Mar 2021

12 Mar 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

High-resolution dataset of thermokarst lakes on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

Xu Chen1, Cuicui Mu1,2,3,4, Lin Jia1, Zhilong Li1, Chengyan Fan1, Mei Mu1, Xiaoqing Peng1, and Xiaodong Wu2,5 Xu Chen et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Western China's Environmental Systems (Ministry of Education), College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, 730000, China
  • 2Cryosphere Research Station on Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Science, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resource, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, 730000, China
  • 3Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Zhuhai), 519000, China
  • 4University Cooperation of Polar Research, Beijing, 100875, China
  • 5University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China

Abstract. The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP), the largest high-altitude and low-latitude permafrost zone in the world, has experienced rapid permafrost degradation in recent decades, and one of the most remarkable resulting characteristics is the formation of thermokarst lakes. Such lakes have attracted significant attention because of their ability to regulate carbon cycle, water, and energy fluxes. However, the distribution of thermokarst lakes in this area remains largely unknown, hindering our understanding of the response of permafrost and its carbon feedback to climate change. Here, based on the Google Earth Engine platform, we examined the modern distribution (2018) of thermokarst lakes on the QTP using Sentinel-2A data; for the first time providing the true spatial distribution by using a resolution of 10 m with a relative error of 0–0.5. Results show that the total thermokarst lake area on the QTP is 1730.34 m2 km2, accounting for approximately 4 % of the total water area of lakes and ponds, and that overall thermokarst lake density is 12/100 m2 km2. More specifically, the densities of thermokarst lakes in the land types of alpine desert steppe (16/100 km2) and barren land (17/100 km2) were larger than those of alpine meadows (13/100 km2), alpine steppe (11/100 km2), and wet meadow (11/100 km2). These findings provide a scientific foundation for future investigations into the effects of climate change on the permafrost environment and carbon emissions from rapidly developing thermokarst landscapes. Data are made available as open access via the National Tibetan Plateau Data Center (Chen et al., 2021) with DOI: 10.11888/Geocry.tpdc.271205 (https://data.tpdc.ac.cn/en/data/c0c05207-568d-41db-ab94-8610bdcdbbe5/).

Xu Chen et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2020-378', Anonymous Referee #1, 05 May 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Xu Chen, 25 May 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on essd-2020-378', Anonymous Referee #2, 05 May 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Xu Chen, 25 May 2021

Xu Chen et al.

Xu Chen et al.

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Short summary
Thermokarst lakes have attracted significant attention because of their ability to regulate carbon cycle. Now, the distribution of thermokarst lakes on QTP remains largely unknown, hindering our understanding of the response of permafrost's carbon feedback to climate change. Here, based on the GEE platform, we examined the modern distribution (2018) of thermokarst lakes on the QTP using Sentinel-2A data. Results show that the total thermokarst lake area on the QTP is 1730.34 m2 km2.