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Researchers Analyze Glacier Mass Balance and Its Contribution to Water Resources in the Sawir Mountains
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 The Sawir Mountains, located in the southwest corner of the Irtysh River, serve as a transitional section between the Altai and Tianshan Mountains, linking China and Kazakhstan. 

Glaciers in the Sawir Mountains have rapidly retreated and lost mass due to climate warming, attracting significant attention, especially with the increasing water management issues in this region, such as flood protection, water supply, and hydroelectric facility operation. 

A research team led by Prof. WANG Puyu from the Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) compared three model calibration strategies to accurately determine glacier mass balance in the Sawir Mountains, providing updated insights into glacial meltwater runoff’s contribution to regional water resources. 

Related results were published in Science of the Total Environment on Jun. 8. 

The researchers made comparison of three models to analyze the glacier mass balance and its contribution to water resources in the Sawir Mountains from 2000 to 2020, by measuring the albedo and mass balance of different types of glaciers. 

The results showed that the glacial albedo for the Sawir Mountains decreased significantly from 2000 to 2020 at a rate of 0.015 (10a)-1. Additionally, all three strategies indicated a consistent negative glacier mass balance over the past 20 periods, with an average annual balance of -1.01 m w.e.  

The results also indicated that the average annual glacial meltwater runoff in the Sawir Mountains during the same period showed a downward trend at a rate of 0.16×106 ma-1, with an annual average of 22×106 m3, contributing to streamflow at a rate of 25.81%. The descending order of glacier contribution rates for the three sub-basins is as follows: Ulkun Ulastu (31.37%), Lhaster (22.51%), and Kendall river basins (19.27%). 

“This study will facilitate a reliable assessment of changes in glacial meltwater runoff and its impact on regional water resources,” said Prof. WANG. 



Wang Puyu  


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