Please wait a minute...
Journal of Arid Land  2016, Vol. 8 Issue (1): 13-22    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0139-4
Research Articles     
Growth of the Sayram Lake and retreat of its water-supplying glaciers in the Tianshan Mountains from 1972 to 2011
CHENG Weiming1*, WANG Nan1,2, ZHAO Shangmin3, FANG Yue1,2,4, ZHAO Min1,2
1 State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China;
2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China;
3 Department of Surveying and Mapping, College of Mining Engineering, Taiyuan University of Technology, Taiyuan 030024, China;
4 Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
Download:   PDF(249KB)
Export: BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      

Abstract  Inland lakes and alpine glaciers are important constituents of water resources in arid and semiarid regions. Understanding their variations is critical for both an accurate evaluation of the dynamic changes of water resources and the retrieval of climatic information. On the basis of earlier researches, this study investigated the growth of the Sayram Lake and the retreat of its water-supplying glaciers in the Tianshan Mountains using long-term sequenced remote sensing images. Our results show that over the past 40 years, the surface area and the water level of the lake has increased by 12.0±0.3 km2 and 2.8 m, respectively, and the area of its water-supplying glaciers has decreased continuously since the early 1970s with a total reduction of about –2.13±0.03 km2. Our study has indicative significance to the research of regional climate change.

Key wordsmid-mountain forest      climatic conditions      soil properties      Picea schrenkiana      arid region      central Asia     
Received: 17 November 2014      Published: 10 February 2016

This work was financially supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (2015CB954101), the National Science and Technology Basic Special Project (2011FY11040-2), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41171332, 41571388), and the Surveying and Mapping Geoinformation Nonprofit Specific Project (201512033).

Cite this article:

CHENG Weiming, WANG Nan, ZHAO Shangmin, FANG Yue, ZHAO Min. Growth of the Sayram Lake and retreat of its water-supplying glaciers in the Tianshan Mountains from 1972 to 2011. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(1): 13-22.

URL:     OR

Aizen V B, Aizen E M, Melack J M. 1996. Precipitation, melt and runoff in the northern Tien Shan. Journal of Hydrology, 186(1–4): 229–251.

Aizen V B, Kuzmichenok V A, Surazakov A B, et al. 2007. Glacier changes in the Tien Shan as determined from topographic and remotely sensed data. Global and Planetary Change, 56(3–4): 328–340.

Bai J, Chen X, Li J L, et al. 2011. Changes of inland lake area in arid Central Asia during 1975–2007: a remote–sensing analysis. Journal of Lake Sciences, 23(1): 80–88. (in Chinese)

Bolch T. 2007. Climate change and glacier retreat in northern Tien Shan (Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan) using remote sensing data. Global and Planetary Change, 56(1–2): 1–12.

Bolch T, Yao T, Kang S, et al. 2010. A glacier inventory for the western Nyainqentanglha Range and the Nam Co Basin, Tibet, and glacier changes 1976–2009. The Cryosphere, 4(3): 419–433.

Bolch T, Kulkarni A, Kääb A, et al. 2012. The state and fate of Himalayan glaciers. Science, 336(6079): 310–314.

Chai H X, Cheng W M, Zhou C H, et al. 2013. Climate effects on an inland alpine lake in Xinjiang, China over the past 40 years. Journal of Arid Land, 5(2): 188–198.

Ding Y J, Liu S Y, Ye B S, et al. 2006. Climatic implications on variations of lakes in the cold and arid regions of china during the recent 50 years. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 28(5): 623–632. (in Chinese)

Donald O R, Thomas C W. 1997. Dynamics of water–table fluctuations in an upland between two prairie–pothole wetlands in North Dakota. Journal of Hydrology, 191(1–4): 266–289.

Dozier J. 1989. Spectral signature of alpine snow cover from the Landsat Thematic Mapper. Remote Sensing of Environment, 28: 9–22.

Fan Z L, Li J. 1984. Recent changes in the lakes of Xinjiang. Geographical Research, 3(1): 77–86. (in Chinese)

Farr T G, Paul A R, Edward C, et al. 2007. The shuttle radar topography mission. Reviews of Geophysics, 45(2): RG2004, doi: 10.1029/2005RG000183.

Gao H Z, Jia Y L. 2005. The evolution characteristics of typical inland lakes in northwest china during the past 40 years and their mechanism. Journal of Arid Land Resources and Environment, 19(5): 93–96. (in Chinese)

González J, Bachmann M, Scheiber R, et al. 2010. Definition of ICESat selection criteria for their use as height references for TanDEM-X. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 48(6): 2750–2757.

Guo N, Zhang J, Liang Y. 2003. Climate change indicated by the recent change of inland lakes in northwest China. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 25(2): 211–214. (in Chinese)

Hu R J, Ma H, Fan Z L, et al. 2002. The climate trend demonstrated by changes of the lakes in Xinjiang since recent years. Journal of Arid Land Resources and Environment, 16(1): 20–27. (in Chinese)

Hu R J, Jiang F Q, Wang Y J, et al. 2007. On the importance of research on the lakes in arid land of China. Arid Zone Research, 24(2): 137–140. (in Chinese)

Jing Z F, Jiao K Q, Yao T D, et al. 2006. Mass balance and recession of Ürümqi glacier No. 1, Tien Shan, China, over the last 45 years. Annals of Glaciology, 43(1): 214–217.

Jones R N, McMahon T A, Bowler J M. 2001. Modelling historical lake levels and recent climate change at three closed lakes, Western Victoria, Australia (c. 1840–1990). Journal of Hydrology, 246(1–4): 159–180.

Kong Y L, Pang Z H. 2012. Evaluating the sensitivity of glacier rivers to climate change based on hydrograph separation of discharge. Journal of Hydrology, 434–435: 121–129.

Kropá?ek J, Braun A, Kang S C, et al. 2012. Analysis of lake level changes in Nam Co in central Tibet utilizing synergistic satellite altimetry and optical imagery. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 17: 3–11.

Kutuzov S, Shahgedanova M. 2009. Glacier retreat and climatic variability in the eastern Terskey–Alatoo, inner Tien Shan between the middle of the 19th century and beginning of the 21st century. Global and Planetary Change, 69(1–2): 59–70.

Lanzhou Institute of Glaciology and Cryopedology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. 1986. Glacier Inventory of China III. Tianshan Mountains (Northwestern Junggar Region). Beijing: Science Press, 184. (in Chinese)

Li J L, Fang H, Bao A M, et al. 2011. Spatio–temporal analysis of recent changes of lake area and lake water level at high mountains in Central Asia. Resources Science, 33(10): 1839–1846. (in Chinese)

Li J L, Sheng Y W. 2013. Spatiotemporal pattern and process of inland lake change in the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau during the period of 1976–2009. Arid Zone Research, 30(4): 571–581. (in Chinese)

Liu J S, Wang S Y, Yu S M, et al. 2009. Climate warming and growth of high–elevation inland lakes on the Tibetan Plateau. Global and Planetary Change, 67(3–4): 209–217.

Liu S Y, Yao X J, Guo W Q, et al. 2015. The contemporary glaciers in China based on the second Chinese glacier inventory. Acta Geographica Sinica, 70(1): 3–16. (in Chinese)

Ma D D, Zhang L P, Wang Q J, et al. 2003. Influence of the warm–wet climate on Sailimu Lake. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 25(2): 219–223. (in Chinese)

McFeeters S K. 1996. The use of the normalized difference water index (NDWI) in the delineation of open water features. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 17(7): 1425–1432.

Mercier F, Cazenave A, Maheu C. 2002. Interannual lake level fluctuations (1993–1999) in Africa from Topex/Poseidon: connections with ocean–atmosphere interactions over the Indian Ocean. Global and Planetary Change, 32(2–3): 141–163.

Qin B Q. 1999. A preliminary investigation of lake evolution in 20–century in inland mainland Asia with relation to the global warming. Journal of Lake Sciences, 11(1): 11–19. (in Chinese)

Shi Y F, Zhang X S. 1995. The effect of climate change on surface water resources and future trend in the northwest arid region, China. Science in China (Series B), 25(9): 968–977. (in Chinese)

Shi Y F. 2005. Glacial Inventory of China (Synthesis volume). Shanghai: Science Popularization Press. (in Chinese)

Song C Q, Huang B, Ke L H. 2013. Modeling and analysis of lake water storage changes on the Tibetan Plateau using multi-mission satellite data. Remote Sensing of Environment, 135: 25–35.

Sorg A, Bolch T, Stoffel M, et al. 2012. Climate change impacts on glaciers and runoff in Tien Shan (Central Asia). Nature Climate Change, 2(10): 725–731.

Wang S J. 1978. On relationship between the formation, the evolution of Sayram Lake and the Quaternary glaciation. Arid Land Geography, (1): 47–55. (in Chinese)

Wang S J, Zhang M J, Li Z Q, et al. 2011. Glacier area variation and climate change in the Chinese Tianshan Mountains since 1960. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 21(2): 263–273.

Yao T D, Thompson L, Yang W, et al. 2012. Different glacier status with atmospheric circulations in Tibetan Plateau and surroundings. Nature Climate Change, 2(9): 663–667.

Yao X J, Liu S Y, Li L, et al. 2014. Spatial-temporal characteristics of lake area variations in Hoh Xil region from 1970 to 2011. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 24(4): 689–702.

Zhang G Q, Xie H J, Kang S C, et al. 2011. Monitoring lake level changes on the Tibetan Plateau using ICESat altimetry data (2003–2009). Remote Sensing of Environment, 115(7): 1733–1742.
[1] WANG Min, CHEN Xi, CAO Liangzhong, KURBAN Alishir, SHI Haiyang, WU Nannan, EZIZ Anwar, YUAN Xiuliang, Philippe DE MAEYER. Correlation analysis between the Aral Sea shrinkage and the Amu Darya River[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(7): 757-778.
[2] LI Wen, MU Guijin, YE Changsheng, XU Lishuai, LI Gen. Aeolian activity in the southern Gurbantunggut Desert of China during the last 900 years[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(6): 649-666.
[3] YANG Jingyi, LUO Weicheng, ZHAO Wenzhi, LIU Jiliang, WANG Dejin, LI Guang. Soil seed bank is affected by transferred soil thickness and properties in the reclaimed coal mine in the Qilian Mountains, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(12): 1529-1543.
[4] YAN Xue, LI Lanhai. Spatiotemporal characteristics and influencing factors of ecosystem services in Central Asia[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(1): 1-19.
[5] Lobna MNIF FAKHFAKH, Mohamed CHAIEB. Effects of water stress on growth phenology photosynthesis and leaf water potential in Stipagrostis ciliata (Desf.) De Winter in North Africa[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(1): 77-90.
[6] YAO Linlin, ZHOU Hongfei, YAN Yingjie, LI Lanhai, SU Yuan. Projection of hydrothermal condition in Central Asia under four SSP-RCP scenarios[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2022, 14(5): 521-536.
[7] WANG Kun, WANG Xiaoxia, FEI Hongyan, WAN Chuanyu, HAN Fengpeng. Changes in diversity, composition and assembly processes of soil microbial communities during Robinia pseudoacacia L. restoration on the Loess Plateau, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2022, 14(5): 561-575.
[8] André L CARVALHO, Renato A ARAÚJO-NETO, Guilherme B LYRA, Carlos E P CERRI, Stoécio M F MAIA. Impact of rainfed and irrigated agriculture systems on soil carbon stock under different climate scenarios in the semi-arid region of Brazil[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2022, 14(4): 359-373.
[9] Halimeh PIRI, Amir NASERIN, Ammar A ALBALASMEH. Interactive effects of deficit irrigation and vermicompost on yield, quality, and irrigation water use efficiency of greenhouse cucumber[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2022, 14(11): 1274-1292.
[10] SONG Yujia, LIU Xijun, XIAO Wenjiao, ZHANG Zhiguo, LIU Pengde, XIAO Yao, LI Rui, WANG Baohua, LIU Lei, HU Rongguo. Neoproterozoic I-type granites in the Central Tianshan Block (NW China): geochronology, geochemistry, and tectonic implications[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2022, 14(1): 82-101.
[11] Batjargal BUYANTOGTOKH, Yasunori KUROSAKI, Atsushi TSUNEKAWA, Mitsuru TSUBO, Batdelger GANTSETSEG, Amarsaikhan DAVAADORJ, Masahide ISHIZUKA, Tsuyoshi T SEKIYAMA, Taichu Y TANAKA, Takashi MAKI. Effect of stones on the sand saltation threshold during natural sand and dust storms in a stony desert in Tsogt-Ovoo in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(7): 653-673.
[12] WU Jun, DENG Guoning, ZHOU Dongmei, ZHU Xiaoyan, MA Jing, CEN Guozhang, JIN Yinli, ZHANG Jun. Effects of climate change and land-use changes on spatiotemporal distributions of blue water and green water in Ningxia, Northwest China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(7): 674-687.
[13] JIA Wuhui, YIN Lihe, ZHANG Maosheng, ZHANG Xinxin, ZHANG Jun, TANG Xiaoping, DONG Jiaqiu. Quantification of groundwater recharge and evapotranspiration along a semi-arid wetland transect using diurnal water table fluctuations[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(5): 455-469.
[14] LANG Man, LI Ping, WEI Wei. Gross nitrogen transformations and N2O emission sources in sandy loam and silt loam soils[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(5): 487-499.
[15] YIN Hanmin, Jiapaer GULI, JIANG Liangliang, YU Tao, Jeanine UMUHOZA, LI Xu. Monitoring fire regimes and assessing their driving factors in Central Asia[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(5): 500-515.