Lake Surface Water Temperature Change over the Tibetan Plateau from 2001 to 2015A Sensitive Indicator of the Warming Climate

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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.



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