Can δ18O help indicate the causes of recent lake area expansion on the western Tibetan Plateau? A case study from Aweng Co

Y. Zhang, M. Jones, J. Zhang (Corresponding author), S. McGowan, S. Metcalfe

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Glacier-fed lakes on the Tibetan Plateau (TP) have undergone rapid expansions since the late 1990s, concurrent with the changing climate. However, the dominant cause(s) of lake area increases is still debated. To identify the drivers of lake expansion, we studied Aweng Co, a glacier-fed lake in the western TP, where surface area has increased (0.74 km2 year−1) since the late 1970s and most rapidly (0.998 km2 year−1) since the late 1990s. A water balance model was used to clarify the reasons for increased lake water volume, supported by stable isotope hydrology and the δ18O change recorded in recent sediments. Results showed that glacial meltwater probably had the biggest impact on changes in Aweng Co lake level in recent decades, but that precipitation was also an important contributor. Our study shows that δ18O of carbonate (δ18Ocarb) has great potential for indicating source changes of water supply in such lakes, but there is a need to be cautious when interpreting δ18Ocarb due to the influence of multiple hydrological factors, which can change in dominance over time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-180
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Volume65
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Glacial meltwater
  • Lake sediment
  • Oxygen isotope
  • Water-balance model

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