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New study reveals continuous lake expansion on Qinghai-Xizang Plateau


A new study has revealed that lakes on the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau have expanded by more than 10,000 square kilometers over the past 30 years, according to the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The study is led by Zhang Guoqing, a researcher at the institute. The study results have been published in the journal Nature Geoscience, providing scientific guidance for the future development planning of the plateau.

The Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, known as the "Water Tower of Asia," has witnessed the lakes undergoing rapid expansion over the past 50 years. This change is driven by a complex interplay of factors, according to Zhang.

Aerial view of the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, May 25, 2023. /CFP
Aerial view of the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, May 25, 2023. /CFP

Aerial view of the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, May 25, 2023. /CFP

The researchers integrated field surveys, remote sensing observations and numerical modeling to assess future changes in lake surface area, water level and water volume on the plateau. They also assessed the ensuing risks to critical infrastructure, human settlements and key ecosystem components.

The findings of the study suggest that, by 2100, even under a low-emissions scenario, the surface area of endorheic lakes on the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau will increase by over 50 percent and water levels will rise by around 10 meters relative to 2020.

This expansion represents approximately a fourfold increase in water storage compared to the period from the 1970s to 2020, according to the study.

The study highlights the urgent need for water hazard mitigation and management across the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, Zhang said.

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency
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