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Journal of Geographical Sciences    2018, Vol. 28 Issue (5) : 647-655     DOI: 10.1007/s11442-018-1496-7
Research Articles |
Overflow probability of the Salt Lake in Hoh Xil Region
YAO Xiaojun1(),SUN Meiping1,2,GONG Peng1,LIU Baokang3,LI Xiaofeng1,AN Lina1,YAN Luxia1
1. College of Geography and Environment Sciences, Northwest Normal University, Lanzhou 730070, China
2. State Key Laboratory of Cryosphere Sciences, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China
3. Qinghai Institute of Meteorological Sciences, Xining 810001, China
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After the bursting of Huiten Nor in Hoh Xil Region in September, 2011, the topic on whether the water overflowed from the Salt Lake would enter into the Chumaer River and become the northernmost source of the Yangtze River has aroused wide concern from public and academic field. Based on Landsat TM/ETM+/OLI remote sensing images during 2010-2015, SRTM 1 arc-second data, Google Earth elevation data and the observation data from the Wudaoliang meteorological station, the study initially analyzed the variations of the Salt Lake and its overflowing condition and probability. The results showed that the area of the Salt Lake expanded sharply from October 2011 to April 2013, and then it stepped into a stable expansion period. On October 27, 2015, the area of the Salt Lake had arrived at 151.38 km2, which was about 3.35 times the area of the lake on March 3, 2010. The Salt Lake will overflow when its area reaches the range from 218.90 km2 to 220.63 km2. Due to the differences between SRTM DEM and Google Earth elevation data, the water level of the Salt Lake simulated would be 12 m or 9.6 m higher than the current level when the lake overflowed, and its reservoir capacity would increase by 23.71 km3 or 17.27 km3, respectively. Meanwhile, the overflowed water of the Salt Lake would run into the Qingshui River basin from its eastern part. Although the Salt Lake does not overflow in the coming decade, with watershed expansion of the Salt Lake and the projected precipitation increase in Hoh Xil region, the probability of water overflow from the Salt Lake and becoming a tributary of the Yangtze River will exist in the long term.

Keywords water overflow      reservoir capacity      Salt Lake      Hoh Xil      Tibetan Plateau     
Fund:National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41261016, No.41561016;Opening Foundation Projection of State Key Laboratory of Cryosphere Sciences, CAS, No.SKLCS-OP-2016-10;Youth Scholar Scientific Capability Promoting Project of Northwest Normal University, No.NWNU-LKQN-14-4
Issue Date: 31 March 2018
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YAO Xiaojun
SUN Meiping
LIU Baokang
LI Xiaofeng
AN Lina
YAN Luxia
Cite this article:   
YAO Xiaojun,SUN Meiping,GONG Peng, et al. Overflow probability of the Salt Lake in Hoh Xil Region[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2018, 28(5): 647-655.
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Figure 1  The map of Salt Lake
Figure 2  Lakes in the neighborhood of the Salt Lake
Figure 3  Variations of the Salt Lake from 2010 to 2015
Period Variations based on
SRTM DEM (108 m3)
Variations based on
Google Earth DEM (108 m3)
March 3, 2010-October 29, 2010 0.80 -
October 29, 2010-November 9, 2011 4.46 2.64
November 9, 2011-May 19, 2012 6.08 5.02
May 19, 2012-October 26, 2012 10.72 10.66
April 12, 2013-October 24, 2014 2.58 0.56
October 24, 2014-October 27, 2015 2.00 -
Table 1  Reservoir capacity variations of the Salt Lake from 2010 to 2015
Figure 4  The expansion range of the overflowed Salt Lake
Figure 5  Precipitation variation observed at Wudaoliang meteorological station from 1970 to 2014
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