Research Articles

Lake evaporation: A possible factor affecting lake level changes tested by modern observational data in arid and semi-arid China

  • College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Center for Hydrologic Cycle and Water Resources in Arid Region, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China

Received date: 2012-02-13

  Revised date: 2012-09-19

  Online published: 2013-02-07


Qinghai Lake and Zhuye Lake, ~400 km apart, are located in the northwest margin of the Asian summer monsoon. Water of these two lakes mostly comes from the middle and eastern parts of the Qilian Mountains. Previous studies show that the Holocene climate changes of the two lakes implied from lake records are different. Whether lake evaporation plays a role in asynchronous Holocene climate changes is important to understand the lake records. In this paper, we used modern observations beside Qinghai Lake and Zhuye Lake to test the impact factors for lake evaporation. Pan evaporation near the two lakes is mainly related to relative humidity, temperature, vapor pressure and sunshine duration. But temperature has different impacts to lake evaporation of the two lakes, which can affect Holocene millennial-scale lake level changes. In addition, differences in relative humidity on the millennial-scale would be more significant, which also can contribute to asynchronous lake records.

Cite this article

LI Yu, WANG Nai’ang, LI Zhuolun, MA Ning, ZHOU Xuehua, ZHANG Chengqi . Lake evaporation: A possible factor affecting lake level changes tested by modern observational data in arid and semi-arid China[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2013 , 23(1) : 123 -135 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-013-0998-6


Allen R G, Pereira L S, Raes D et al., 1998. Crop evapotranspiration: Guidelines for computing crop water requirements. FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper 56. Rome: United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
An C B, Feng Z D, Barton L, 2006. Dry or humid? Mid-Holocene humidity changes in arid and semi-arid China. Quaternary Science Reviews, 25: 351-361.
An Z, Porter S C, Kutzbach J E et al., 2000. Asynchronous Holocene optimum of the East Asian monsoon. Quaternary Science Reviews, 19: 743-762.
Berger A, Loutre M F, 1991. Insolation values for the climate of the last 10 million years. Quaternary Science Reviews, 10: 297-317.
Bian Q, Liu J, Luo X et al., 2000. Geotectonic setting, formation and evolution of Qinghai Lake, Qinghai, China. Seismology and Geology, 22(1): 20-26. (in Chinese)
Chen F H, Yu Z C, Yang M L, 2008. Holocene moisture evolution in arid Central Asia and its out-of-phase relationship with Asian monsoon history. Quaternary Science Reviews, 27: 351-364.
Chen L H, Qu Y G, 1992. Water-land Resources and Reasonable Development and Utilization in the Hexi Region. Beijing: Science Press. (in Chinese)
Colman S M, Yu S, An Z et al., 2007. Late Cenozoic climate changes in China’s western interior: A review of research on Lake Qinghai and comparison with other records. Quaternary Science Reviews, 26: 2281-2300.
Cong Z, Ni G, Yang D et al., 2008. Evaporation paradox in China. Advances in Water Science, 19(2): 147-152. (in Chinese)
Farrera I, Harrison S P, Prentice I C et al., 1999. Tropical climates at the last glacial maximum: A new synthesis of terrestrial palaeoclimate data: I. Vegetation, lake-levels and geochemistry. Climate Dynamics, 15: 823-856.
Guo L, Guo Y, Luo X et al., 2009. Evaporation capacity and climatic changing characters in Hexi Corridor of Gansu Province in recent 48 years and the influencing factors. Acta Agriculturae Universitatis Jiangxiensis, 31(2): 375-380. (in Chinese)
Hack J J, Caron J, Yeager S et al., 2006. Simulation of the global hydrological cycle in the CCSM community atmosphere model version 3 (CAM3): Mean features. Journal of Climate, 19: 2199-2221.
Harrison S P, Digerfeldt G, 1993. European lakes as palaeohydrological and palaeoclimatic indicators. Quaternary Science Reviews, 12: 233-248.
Herzschuh U, 2006. Palaeo-moisture evolution in monsoonal Central Asia during the last 50,000 years. Quaternary Science Reviews, 25: 163-178.
Li Y, Li X, Cui B et al., 2010. Trend of pan evaporation and its impact factors over Qinghai Lake Basin from 1961 to 2007. Journal of Lake Science, 22(4): 616-624. (in Chinese)
Li Y, Morrill C, 2010. Multiple factors causing Holocene lake-level change in monsoonal and arid Central Asia as identified by model experiments. Climate Dynamics, 35: 1115-1128.
Li Y, Wang N, Cheng H et al., 2009a. Holocene environmental change in the marginal area of the Asian monsoon: A record from Zhuye Lake, NW China. Boreas, 38: 349-361.
Li Y, Wang N, Morrill C et al., 2009b. Environmental change implied by the relationship between pollen assemblages and grain-size in N.W. Chinese lake sediments since the Late Glacial. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 154: 54-64.
Linacre E T, 1993. Data-sparse estimation of lake evaporation using a simplified Penman equation. Agric. & Forestry Meteor., 64: 237-256.
Linacre E T, 1994. Estimating U.S. Class A pan evaporation from few climate data. Water International, 19: 5-14.
Lister G, Kelts K, Chen K Z et al., 1991. Lake Qinghai, China: Closed basin lake levels and the oxygen isotope record for ostracoda since late Pleistocene. Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology, 84: 141-162.
Liu X, Shen J, Wang S et al., 2007. Southwest monsoon changes indicated by oxygen isotope of ostracode shells from sediments in Qinghai Lake since the Late Glacial. Chinese Science Bulletin, 52: 539-544.
Mischke S, Kramer M, Zhang C J et al., 2008. Reduced early Holocene moisture availability in the Bayan Har Mountains, northeastern Tibetan Plateau, inferred from a multi-proxy lake record. Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology, 267: 59-76.
Morinaga H, Itota C, Isezaki N et al., 1993. Oxygen-18 and carbon-13 records for the last 14 000 years from lacustrine carbonates of Siling-Co (lake) in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Geophysical Research Letters, 20: 2909-2912.
Morrill C, 2004. The influence of Asian summer monsoon variability on the water balance of a Tibetan lake. Journal of Paleolimnology, 32: 273-286.
Morrill C, Overpeck J T, Cole J E et al., 2006. Holocene variations in the Asian monsoon inferred from the geochemistry of lake sediments in central Tibet. Quaternary Research, 65: 232-243.
Pachur H J, Wunnemann B, Zhang H, 1995. Lake evolution in the Tengger Desert, northwestern China, during the last 40,000 years. Quaternary Research, 44: 171-180.
Penman H L, 1948. Natural evaporation from open water, bare soil and grass. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series A: Mathematical and Physical Sciences, 193: 120-146.
Qin B Q, Yu G, 1998. Implications of lake level fluctuations at 6 ka and 18 ka in mainland Asia. Global and Planetery Change, 18: 59-72.
Shen J, Liu X Q, Wang S M et al., 2005. Palaeoclimatic changes in the Qinghai Lake area during the last 18,000 years. Quaternary International, 136: 131-140.
Shen S, Sheng Q, 2008. Changes in pan evaporation and its cause in China in the last 45 years. Acta Meteorologica Sinica, 66(3): 452-460. (in Chinese)
Street-Perrott F A, Grove A T, 1979. Global maps of lake-level fluctuations since 30 000 yr B. P. Quaternary Research, 12: 83-118.
Wang L J, 2003. Analysis and strategies of the water table drop of reason of the Qinghai Lake. Journal of Qinghai University, 21: 28-31. (in Chinese)
Xiao J L, Chang Z, Wen R et al., 2009. Holocene weak monsoon intervals indicated by low lake levels at Hulun Lake in the monsoonal margin region of northeastern Inner Mongolia, China. The Holocene, 19: 899-908.
Xiao J L, Wu J T, Si B et al., 2006. Holocene climate changes in the monsoon/arid transition reflected by carbon concentration in Daihai Lake of Inner Mongolia. The Holocene, 16: 551-560.
Xiao J L, Xu Q H, Nakamura T et al., 2004. Holocene vegetation variation in the Daihai Lake region of north-central China: A direct indication of the Asian monsoon climatic history. Quaternary Science Reviews, 23: 1669-1679.
Yin Y, Wu S, Zheng D et al., 2008. Radiation calibration of FAO56 Penman-Monteith model to estimate reference crop evapotranspiration in China. Agricultural Water Management, 95: 77-84.
Yu G, Xue B, Liu J et al., 2003. LGM lake records from China and an analysis of climate dynamics using a modelling approach. Global and Planetery Change, 38: 223-256.
Zhang H C, Peng J L, Ma Y et al., 2004. Late Quaternary palaeolake levels in Tengger Desert, NW China. Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology, 211: 45-58.
Zhang P X, Zhang B Z, Yang W B, 1989. On the model of postglacial palaeoclimatic fluctuation in Qinghai Lake region. Quaternary Sciences, 1: 66-77. (in Chinese)
Zhao Y, Yu Z, Chen F H et al., 2008. Holocene vegetation and climate change from a lake sediment record in the Tengger Sandy Desert, Northwest China. Journal Arid Environments, 72: 2054-2064.
Zuo H, Li D, Hu Y et al., 2005. Characteristics of climatic trends and correlation between pan-evaporation and environmental factors in the last 40 years over China. Chinese Science Bulletin, 50: 1235-1241.