Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Spatial variability of glacial changes and their effects on water resources in the Chinese Tianshan Mountains during the last five decades


Changes in glaciers in the Chinese Tianshan Mountains have been analyzed previously. However, most previous studies focused on individual glaciers and/or decentralized glacial basins. Moreover, a majority of these studies were published only in Chinese, which limited their usefulness at the international level. With this in mind, the authors reviewed the previous studies to create an overview of glacial changes in the Chinese Tianshan Mountains over the last five decades and discussed the effects of glacial changes on water resources. In response to climate change, glaciers in the Tianshan Mountains are shrinking rapidly and are ca. 20% smaller on average in the past five decades. Overall, the area reduction of glacial basins in the central part of the Chinese Tianshan Mountains is larger than that in the eastern and western parts. The spatial differentiation in glacial changes are caused by both differences in regional climate and in glacial factors. The effects of glacial changes on water resources vary in different river basins due to the differences in glacier distribution, characteristics of glacial change and proportion of the glacier meltwater in river runoff.


Chinese Tianshan Mountains; climate change; glacial change; regional differences; water resources

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