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Two ice cores were retrieved from high elevations (~5800 m a.s.l.) at Mt. Nyainqêntanglha and Mt. Geladaindong in the southern and central Tibetan Plateau region. The combined tracer analysis of tritium (3H), 210Pb and mercury, along with other chemical records, provided multiple lines of evidence supporting that the two coring sites had not received net ice accumulation since at least the 1950s and 1980s, respectively. These results implied an annual ice loss rate of more than several hundred millimeter water equivalent over the past 30–60 years. Both mass balance modeling at the sites and in situ data from the nearby glaciers confirmed a continuously negative mass balance (or mass loss) in the region due to dramatic warming in recent decades. Along with a recent report on Naimona'nyi Glacier in the Himalayas, the findings suggest that the loss of accumulation area of glacier is a possibility from the southern to central Tibetan Plateau at high elevations, probably up to about 5800 m a.s.l. This mass loss raises concerns over the rapid rate of glacier ice loss and associated changes in surface glacier runoff, water availability, and sea levels.
Kang, S., Wang, F., Morgenstern, U., Zhang, Y., Grigholm, B., Kaspari, S., Schwikowski, M., Ren, J., Yao, T., Qin, D., and Mayewski, P. A.: Dramatic loss of glacier accumulation area on the Tibetan Plateau revealed by ice core tritium and mercury records, The Cryosphere, 9, 1213–1222, https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-9-1213-2015, 2015.
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