Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2019, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (1): 101-114.doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1586-1

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Evaluation on glaciers ecological services value inthe Tianshan Mountains, Northwest China

Zhengyong ZHANG1(), Lin LIU1,*(), Xinlin HE1, Zhongqin LI2, Puyu WANG2   

  1. 1. Shihezi University, Shihezi 832000, Xinjiang, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • Received:2018-05-15 Accepted:2018-07-23 Online:2019-01-25 Published:2019-01-25
  • Contact: Lin LIU;
  • About author:

    Author: Zhang Zhengyong (1978-), PhD and Associate Professor, specialized in the research of hydrological processes andclimate change impact assessment. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41761108, No.41461086, No.41641003;Shihezi University High-level Talents Support Program, No.CZ0227


Mountain glaciers, which perform a unique and irreplaceable ecological service, provide the material basis and characteristic cultural foundation of the ecological environment and sustainable socio-economic development in arid areas. However, few studies have estimated the service value of glaciers in regulating ecological environment and providing human welfare. According to the statistics of the First and Second Chinese Glacier Inventory (FCGI/SCGI), this study analyzed the variations in glacier area and ice volume in the Tianshan Mountains in China and modeled the ecosystem service function of mountain glaciers. The service value per unit area and equivalent factor methods were combined to determine the annual value of the ecological service provided by glaciers in the study area. The results show that: (1) In the period 1970-2010, the glacier area decreased by 1274 km2 (the ratio of area shrinkage was 13.9%) and the annual average decrease in ice volume was 4.08×109 m3. The increase in glacier area at high altitudes (> 5200 m) may be due to the fact that glacier accumulation caused by increasing precipitation is greater than glacier melting caused by rising temperatures. (2) The annual value of the ecological service provided by glaciers in the study area is 60.2 billion yuan. The values of climate regulation, hydrological regulation, and freshwater resource supply account for 66.4%, 21.6%, and 9.3% of the total value respectively. The annual value of the ecological service provided by hydroelectric power is 350 million yuan. (3) From a comparative analysis of the glaciers, forest, grassland and wetland ecosystems, the supply of freshwater resources/physical production and ecological regulation represent the main contributions of the four types of system, and the ecosystem service value of glaciers per unit area is higher than that of other types of ecosystem. This research will improve the understanding of the impact of glaciers on human welfare and maintenance of the ecological environment and will promote the ecological security of the cryosphere, environmental protection, and the sustainable use of resources.

Key words: glacier, ecological function, service value, estimate, Tianshan Mountains