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Tibet Plateau reports 99 new lakes in last four decades: Research

Xinhua, January 5, 2017 Adjust font size:

Climate change researchers working across the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau say rapid warming has resulted in the formation of 99 new lakes and "extensive" lake expansion over the last four decades.

The findings were published in the latest edition of the American journal "Geophysical Research Letters."

Besides the north and south poles, the Qinghai-Tibet and Mongolian plateaus are the most sensitive regions to climate change, said Zhang Guoqing from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research. Zhang was the lead author of the paper.

The two adjacent plateaus have been changing in opposite directions in response to climate change, according to the paper.

"We found 99 new lakes and extensive lake expansion on the Tibetan Plateau during the past four decades from 1970 to 2013," said Zhang. The team attributed this to increased precipitation and cryospheric contributions to the region's water balance

In contrast, on the Mongolian Plateau, 208 lakes have disappeared and 75 percent of those remaining have shrunk. The shrinking is mainly due to activities by mankind, Zhang said.

"We hope the findings could provide useful information for ecological and water resource planning in these fragile landscapes," he said.

Repeated studies have shown the effects of climate change to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

According to a report released by the institute in 2015, the region's average annual temperature rose by 0.3-0.4 degree Celsius every ten years from 1960 to 2012, about twice the average of the rest of the world. The temperature rose more sharply year on year in winter and in northern part of the plateau, it said.

According to climate change models, the next 100 years may see the plateau warming by 4 degrees Celsius, it said.