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Snow depth in Tianshan Mountains declines last century: study


Snow depth in the Tianshan Mountains shows a downward trend in the last one hundred years, a recent study by the scientists at the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography (XIEG) of Chinese Academy of Sciences found.

The study was based on reanalysis datasets from 1901 to 2014 and observational data from 1961 to 2014 in the Tianshan Mountains of China.

Snow cover plays a critical role in the Tianshan Mountains. Snow melt provides abundant water supply for river flow in this area, and also shelters the agricultural and animal husbandry production in the downstream oasis and its ecological system.

"Clarifying the long-term variations in snow depth is important for hydrological, meteorological and ecological implications," said LI Lanhai who leads the XIEG research team.

Snow depth in the region shows a general decrease trend in the last century, with variation in different spatial and temporal scale, researchers found. Increases in snow depth were detected in the southern and eastern Tianshan Mountains, while western, northern and overall Tianshan Mountains indicated an increase during the periods of 1901–1960 and 1961–2014, but showed a decrease during the overall period of 1901–2014.

"The difference in variation of snow depth trends in different temporal scales indicates that the time scale of snow depth increase is decadal rather than centennial," LI said.

LI’s work proposed a method for developing historical snow depth for observation-limited areas, and therefore provides additional data for hydrological and ecological simulation. The results also allow us to achieve a better understanding of regional climate change,” said LI.

The research results were published on recent issue of Global and Planetary Change, entitled "Snow depth reconstruction over last century: trend and distribution in the Tianshan Mountains, China".



Contact: LIU Jie, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography

E-mail: liujie@ms.xjb.ac.cn