Glaciers were solid reservoirs and important water resources in western China, but they were retreating significantly in context of global warming.
Laohugou Glacier No. 12 was the largest valley glacier in Qilian Mountains. In this study, realtime kinematic (RTK) data, topographic map and WorldView-2 satellite imagery were used to measure changes in terminus, extent and volume of Laohugou Glacier No. 12.
Results showed that Laohugou Glacier No. 12 was shrinking significantly since 1957. From 1960 to 2015, the terminus reduction of Laohugou Glacier No. 12 was 402.96 m (3.99%) in total, and glacier length decreased to 9.7 km from 10.1 km.
Reduction of glacier area and volume were the most obvious. From 1957 to 2015, glacier area and volume decreased by 1.54 km2 (7.03%) and 0.1816 km3, respectively.
Reduction trend of terminus and area was slowing in 1950 -1980s, even stable for a period in the mid-1980s, and then accelerated.
Ice core analysis result and nearly meteorological station data shown an increasing trend of temperature in 1957 -2015, it was a main reason of continuous retreating of Laohugou Glacier No.12.
Locations of the Laohugou Glacier No. 12