Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2018, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (5): 647-655.doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1496-7

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Overflow probability of the Salt Lake in Hoh Xil Region

Xiaojun YAO1(), Meiping SUN1,2, Peng GONG1, Baokang LIU3, Xiaofeng LI1, Lina AN1, Luxia YAN1   

  1. 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
  • Accepted:2017-07-20 Online:2018-03-30 Published:2018-03-30
  • About author:

    Author: Yao Xiaojun (1980-), PhD and Associate Professor, specialized in GIS and cryospheric change.

  • Supported by:
    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


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.

Key words: water overflow, reservoir capacity, Salt Lake, Hoh Xil, Tibetan Plateau