12 Nov 2021

12 Nov 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Lake area and volume variation in the endorheic basin of the Tibetan Plateau from 1989 to 2019

Liuming Wang1,3, Junxiao Wang2,3, Mengyao Li1, Liping Zhu4, and Xingong Li5 Liuming Wang et al.
  • 1Schoole of Geography and Ocean Science, Nanjing University, Nanjing, 210023, China
  • 2Schoole of Public Administration, University of Finance & Economics, Nanjing, 210023, China
  • 3Laboratory of Coastal Zone Exploitation and Protection, Ministry of Natural Resource, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210017, China
  • 4Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface Processes (TEL), Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research (ITP), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
  • 5Department of Geography & Atmospheric Science, University of Kansas, Lawrence, 66045, United States of America

Abstract. The Tibetan Plateau, known as "the third pole of the Earth", is a region susceptible to climate change. With little human disturbance, lake storage changes serve as a unique indicator of climate change, but comprehensive lake storage data are rare in the region, especially for the lakes with an area less than 10 km2 which are the most sensitive to environmental changes. In this paper, we completed a census of annual lake volume change for 976 lakes larger than 1 km2 in the endorheic basin of the Tibetan Plateau (EBTP) during 1989–2019 using Landsat imagery and digital terrain models. Validation and comparison with several existing studies indicate that our data are more reliable. Lake volume in the EBTP exhibited a net increase of 193.45 km3 during the time period with an increasing rate of 6.45 km3 year−1. In general, the larger the lake area, the greater the lake volume change, though there are some exceptions. Lakes with an area less than 10 km2 have more severe volume change whether decreasing or increasing. This research complements existing lake studies by providing a comprehensive and long-term lake volume change data for the region. The dataset is available on Zenodo (, Wang et al., 2021).

Liuming Wang et al.

Status: open (until 07 Jan 2022)

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Liuming Wang et al.

Data sets

Lake area and volume variation data in the endorheic basin of the Tibetan Plateau from 1989 to 2019 Junxiao Wang; Liuming Wang; Mengyao Li; Liping Zhu; Xingong Li

Liuming Wang et al.


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Short summary
This research provides a comprehensive census on water volume change for the lakes greater than or equal to 1 km2 in the EBTP from 1989–2019 using Landsat imagery and digital elevation data. Our annual dataset, compared with satellite altimetry and other existing data, covers more lakes, especially small lakes in 1–10 km2, and longer time period. The dataset is valuable in studying the impacts of climate change and water balance in the region.