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Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Multi-decadal variations in glacier flow velocity and the influencing factors of Urumqi Glacier No. 1 in Tianshan Mountains, Northwest China

Abstract

Urumqi Glacier No. 1 is a representative glacier in the inland areas of Central Asia and is the only Chinese reference glacier in the World Glacier Monitoring Service. In this study, we explored multi-decadal variations in the flow velocity of the glacier and the influencing factors based on continuous field observations and path coefficient analysis. Results show that the glacier flow velocity decreased from 5.5 m/a in 1980/1981 to 3.3 m/a in 2010/2011. The annual variation in the direction of glacier flow velocity in the western branch and eastern branch was less than 1°–3°, and the change of glacier flow velocity in the western branch was more dramatic than that in the eastern branch. Glacier flow velocity was influenced by glacier morphology (including glacier area, glacier length, and ice thickness), glacier mass balance and local climate conditions (air temperature and precipitation), the glacier morphology being the leading factor. The long-term flow velocity data set of Urumqi Glacier No. 1 contributes to a better understanding of glacier dynamics within the context of climatic warming.

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