Science Service System

Summary of Proposal HYD1896

TitleEstimation of glacier melt water and lakebed deformation on Tibetan Plateau using interferometric TerraSAR data
Investigator Sheng, Yongwei - University of California, Los Angeles, Geography
Team Member
Associate Professor Zhou, Chunxia - Wuhan University, Chinese Antarctic Center of Surveying and Mapping
Ph.D. Wang, Jida - University of California, Los Angeles, Geography
Associate Professor Sheng, Yongwei - University of California, Los Angeles, Geography

Mountain glaciers and lakes in endorheic basins are reliable indicator of climate change. The Tibetan Plateau, home to the world’s largest group of high-altitude lakes and mid-latitude glaciers, are particularly vulnerable to climate change.Glaciers are retreating and lakes have been expanding substantially on Tibetan Plateau, at a rate much higher than the world’s average. How fast have the glaciers recently changed on the plateau? How much does glacier melt water contribute to lake expansion compared to atmospheric precipitation’s contribution? What is the magnitude lakebed deformation caused by the recent lake expansion? These are important science questions in this high-profile region. This proposed project seeks to use interferometricTerraSAR images to map glacier volume change and further to estimate the amount of glacier melt water, and to derive lakebed deformation field for large lakes such as Siling Co of a size of ~2000 km2, which has expanded >30%in the past decades (Sheng and Li, 2011).

Ice flow velocity, length fluctuation and thickness variation are important parameters for glacier dynamics caused by the changing climate. Glaciers that expand in area may however be thinning in fact.Thus, the glacier elevation change plays an important role in estimating the volume change.This research work aims to study the ice flow velocity of mountain glaciers and the volume change of representative glaciers on the plateau,and to integrate the results with the observed downstream lake dynamics data to determine glacier’s contribution in lake expansion.

The research is supported by NASA Tibetan lake dynamics project and USGS global lake mapping project.

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