Research ArticleCLIMATOLOGY

Quantifying the evaporation amounts of 75 high-elevation large dimictic lakes on the Tibetan Plateau

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Science Advances  26 Jun 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 26, eaay8558
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay8558

Abstract

Lake evaporation can influence basin-wide hydrological cycles and is an important factor in loss of water resources in endorheic lakes of the Tibetan Plateau. Because of the scarcity of data, published lake evaporation values are inconsistent, and their spatial distribution has never been reported. Presenting a plausible hypothesis of energy balance during the ice-free seasons, we explored the multiyear (2003–2016) average ice phenology and evaporation amounts of 75 large dimictic lakes by using a combination of meteorological and satellite data. Evaporation amounts show large variability in spatial distribution, with a pattern of higher values in the south. Lakes with higher elevation, smaller area, and higher latitude are generally associated with a shorter ice-free season and lower evaporation. The total evaporated water amounts have values of approximately 29.4 ± 1.2 km3 year−1 for the 75 studied lakes and 51.7 ± 2.1 km3 year−1 for all plateau lakes included.

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