Document Type


Publication Date


Journal / Book Title

Geophysical Research Letters


The Tibetan Plateau (TP) plays a significant role in the Earth's climate system. This letter examines the nighttime lake surface water temperature (LSWT) of 374 lakes (≥10 km 2 each) over the TP for the past 15 years (2001–2015). An overall warming trend (0.037 °C/year) is found and it is consistent with the warming air temperature (0.036 °C/year) over the TP, with the vast majority of the lakes (70%, with 28% of which are significant) showing warming (0.076 °C/year) and the rest (30%, with 37% of which are significant) showing cooling (−0.053 °C/year). This astonishing contrast was controlled by different water sources recharging these lakes: (1) warming LSWT due to increased precipitation (central and northern TP) or permafrost degradation (northwestern TP) and (2) cooling LSWT due to increased glacier meltwater (southwestern TP), revealing LSWT a sensitive indicator to climate change that triggered different regional responses in precipitation, permafrost, and glacier changes over the TP. This study helps improve our understanding of high-altitude lakes and their changing mechanisms under the warming climate.



Published Citation

Wan, W., Zhao, L., Xie, H., Liu, B., Li, H., Cui, Y., ... & Hong, Y. (2018). Lake surface water temperature change over the Tibetan plateau from 2001 to 2015: A sensitive indicator of the warming climate. Geophysical Research Letters, 45(20), 11-177.