Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2010, Vol. 20 ›› Issue (3): 375-388.doi: 10.1007/s11442-010-0375-7

• Wetland • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Alpine wetlands in the Lhasa River Basin, China

ZHANG Yili1, WANG Chunlian1,2, BAI Wanqi1, WANG Zhaofeng1, TU Yanli3, YANGJAEN Dor Gka3   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resource Research (IGSNRR), CAS, Beijing 100101, China;;
    2. Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China;;
    3. Tibet Plateau Institute of Biology (TPIB), Lhasa 850001, China
  • Received:2009-06-06 Revised:2009-10-08 Online:2010-06-15 Published:2010-06-15
  • About author:Zhang Yili (1962?), Professor, specialized in physical geography and land-use/land-cover change. E-mail:,


The Lhasa River Basin is one of the typical distribution regions of alpine wetlands on the Tibetan Plateau. It is very important to get a better understanding of the background and characteristics of alpine wetland for monitoring, protection and utilization. Wetland construction and distribution in the basin were analyzed based on multi-source data including field investigation data, CBERS remote sensing data and other thematic data provided by 3S technology. The results are (1) the total area of wetlands is 209,322.26 hm2, accounting for 6.37% of the total land area of the basin. The wetlands are mainly dominated by natural wetland, with artificial wetland occupying only 1.09% of the wetland area; marsh wetland is the principal part of natural wetland, dominated by Kobresia littledalei swampy meadow which is distributed in the river source area and upstream of Chali, Damshung and Medro Gongkar counties. The ratio and type of wetlands in different counties differ significantly, which are widely distributed in Chali and Damshung counties (accounting for 62% of the total wetland area). (2) The concentrated vertical distribution of wetlands is at an elevation of 3600–5100 m. The wetlands are widely distributed throughout the Yarlung Zangbo River Valley from river source to river mouth into the Yarlung Zangbo River. Marsh wetland is dominant in the source area and upstream of the river, with the mosaic distribution of lakes, Kobresia littledalei and Carex moorcroftii swampy meadow, shrubby swamp and river; as for the middle-down streams, the primary types are river wetland and flooded wetland. The distribution is in a mosaic pattern of river, Kobresia humilis and Carex moorcroftii swampy meadow, Phragmites australis and subordinate grass marsh, flooded wetland and artificial wetland.

Key words: Lhasa River Basin, alpine wetland, classification system, distribution, 3S technology