16 Dec 2021

16 Dec 2021

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

Spatio-temporal evolution of glacial lakes in the Tibetan Plateau over the past 30 years

Xiangyang Dou1, Xuanmei Fan1, Ali P. Yunus1, Junlin Xiong1, Ran Tang2, Xin Wang1, and Qiang Xu1 Xiangyang Dou et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Geohazard Prevention and Geoenvironment Protection, Chengdu University of Technology, 610059, Chengdu, China
  • 2School of Architecture and Civil Engineering,Chengdu University, Chengdu, China

Abstract. As the Third Pole of the Earth and the Water Tower of Asia, Tibetan Plateau (TP) nurtures large numbers of glacial lakes, which are sensitive to global climate change. These lakes modulate the freshwater ecosystem in the region, but concurrently pose severe threats to the valley population by means of sudden glacial lake outbursts and consequent floods (GLOFs). Lack of high-resolution multi-temporal inventory of glacial lakes in TP hampers a better understanding and prediction of the future trend and risk of glacial lakes. Here, we created a multi-temporal inventory of glacial lakes in TP using 30 years record of satellite images (1990–2019), and discussed their characteristics and spatio-temporal evolution over the years. Results showed that their number and area had increased by 3285 and 258.82 km2, respectively in the last 3 decades. We noticed that different regions of TP exhibited varying change rates in glacial lake size; some regions even showed decreasing trend such as the western Pamir and the eastern Hindu Kush because of reduced rainfall rates. The mapping uncertainty is about 17.5 %, lower than other available datasets, thus making our inventory, a reliable one for the spatio-temporal evolution analysis of glacial lakes in TP. Our lake inventory data are freely available at (Dou et al., 2021); it can help to study climate change-glacier-glacial lake-GLOF interactions in the third pole and serve input to various hydro-climatic studies.

Xiangyang Dou et al.

Status: open (until 16 Feb 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2021-354', Anonymous Referee #1, 19 Jan 2022 reply

Xiangyang Dou et al.

Data sets

Dou, X., Fan, X., Yunus, A. P., Xiong, J., Tang, R., Wang, X., and Xu, Q. Spatio-temporal glacial lakes dataset in the Tibetan Plateau: 1990–2019 (TPGL)

Xiangyang Dou et al.


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Short summary
Due to global warming, the glaciers in the Tibetan Plateau (TP) undergoes rapid melting, leading to an increase in the number of glacial lakes and lake areas. However, these changes are not homogenous throughout TP. Here, we present the 30 years (1990–2019) record of glacial lakes inventory of TP using archived Landsat images. We showed that the number and area of glacial lakes increased by 3285 and 258.82 km2 in the last three decades in TP.