Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2017, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (3): 337-347.doi: 10.1007/s11442-017-1380-x

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Investigating changes in lake systems in the south-central Tibetan Plateau with multi-source remote sensing

Yanhong WU1(), Xin ZHANG2, Hongxing ZHENG3, Junsheng *LI1(), Zhiying WANG1,4   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Digital Earth Science, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. College of Global Change and Earth System Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    3. CSIRO Land and Water, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
    4. College of Geography and Environment, Shandong Normal University, Jinan 250014, China
  • Received:2015-12-30 Accepted:2016-07-15 Online:2017-03-30 Published:2017-03-30
  • About author:

    Author: Liu Chunla, PhD, specialized in economic geography and regional development. E-mail:

    *Corresponding author: Chen Mingxing, PhD and Associate Professor, E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    The “Strategic Priority Research Program (B)” of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.XDB03030406;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41371218, No.41165011


Lakes in the Tibetan Plateau are considered sensitive responders to global warming. Variations in physical features of lake systems such as surface area and water level are very helpful in understanding regional responses to global warming in recent decades. In this study, multi-source remote sensing data were used to retrieve the surface area and water level time series of five inland lakes in the south-central part of the Tibetan Plateau over the past decades. Changes in water level and surface area of the lakes were investigated. The results showed that the water level of three lakes (Puma Yumco, Taro Co, Zhari Namco) increased, with expanding surface area, while the water levels of the other two lakes (Paiku Co, Mapam Yumco) fell, with shrinking area. The water levels of the lakes experienced remarkable changes in 2000-2012 as compared with 1976-1999. Spatially, lakes located at the southern fringe of the Tibetan Plateau showed consistency in water level changes, which was different from lakes in the central Tibetan Plateau.

Key words: water level, surface area, lake system, remote sensing, Tibetan Plateau