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Authors: Yi, Shuang
Song, Chunqiao
Heki, Kosuke
Kang, Shichang
Wang, Qiuyu
Chang, Le
Title: Satellite-observed monthly glacier and snow mass changes in southeast Tibet : implication for substantial meltwater contribution to the Brahmaputra
Issue Date: 2020 Zeitschriftenartikel 2267-2281 The cryosphere 14 (2020), pp. 2267-2281
ISSN: 1994-0424
Abstract: High-Asia glaciers have been observed to be retreating the fastest in the southeastern Tibet Plateau (SETP), where vast numbers of glaciers and amounts of snow feed the streamflow of the Brahmaputra, a transboundary river linking the world's two most populous countries, China and India. However, the low temporal resolutions in previous observations of glacier and snow (GS) mass balance obscured the seasonal accumulation–ablation variations, and their modelling estimates were divergent. Here we use monthly satellite gravimetry observations from August 2002 to June 2017 to estimate GS mass variation in the SETP. We find that the “spring-accumulation-type” glaciers and snow in the SETP reach their maximum in May. This is in stark contrast to seasonal variations in terrestrial water storage, which is controlled by summer precipitation and reaches the maximum in August. These two seasonal variations are mutually orthogonal and can be easily separated in time-variable gravity observations. Our GS mass balance results show a long-term trend of -6.5±0.8 Gt yr^-1 (or 0.67±0.08 m w.e. yr^-1) and annual mass decreases ranging from -49.3 to -78.3 Gt with an average of -64.5±8.9 Gt in the SETP between August 2002 and June 2017. The contribution of summer meltwater to the Brahmaputra streamflow is estimated to be 51±9 Gt. This result could help to resolve previous divergent modelling estimates and underlines the importance of meltwater to the Brahmaputra streamflow. The high sensitivity between GS melting and temperature on both annual and monthly scales suggests that the Brahmaputra will suffer from not only changes in total annual discharge but also an earlier runoff peak due to ongoing global warming.
Appears in Collections:06 Fakultät Luft- und Raumfahrttechnik und Geodäsie

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