China starts 2nd scientific expedition to Tibet plateau





File photo taken on June 29, 2014 shows a grand view of the Serling Tso, the rapid

expansion of which is fueled by melting glaciers and increased rain according to a new

research in June 2014. The Serling Tso was then measured at 2,391 square kilometers,

369 square km larger than the Buddhist holy Namtso, which also makes it the second

biggest salt lake in China.   Photo by  Purbu Zhaxi





LHASA  |  2017-06-17 20:47:12


China starts 

2nd scientific expedition

to Tibet plateau


By  Xu Lingui, Zhou Yan, Lü Nuo and Wang Qinou



A flag handover is held at the launching ceremony of the second

scientific expedition to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau on June 17, 2017.  

Photo by Photo by Jigme Doje


Scientists involved the mission take a group photo at the launching ceremony

of the second scientific expedition to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau on June 17, 2017.   

Photo by Jigme Doje



China on Saturday of June 17 began its second scientific expedition to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to study changes in climate, biodiversity and environment over the past decades.

The last expedition of similar scale was conducted in the 1970s.

This time, the expedition will last five to 10 years and the first stop will be Serling Tso, a 2,391-square-kilometer lake that was confirmed to have replaced the Buddhist holy lake Namtso as Tibet’s largest in 2014.

In the coming month, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) will take more than 100 scientists to the lake area and the origin of the Yangtze, China’s longest river. They will be divided into four groups and make a comprehensive survey of the plateau glaciers, climate change, biodiversity and ecological changes, said Yao Tandong, an academician with the CAS.

“Great changes have taken place in the plateau’s resources and environment since the first scientific expedition,” said Yao, director of the CAS Institute of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Research. “We need further research to find out ways to cope with these changes.”

China’s first comprehensive scientific expedition to the Tibet plateau began in the 1970s and covered more than 50 disciplines including geologic structure, prehistoric life, geophysics, climate, zoology and botany.

“The scientists reported major discoveries and filled many gaps in plateau research,” said Yao.

The new round of research, he said, will focus on changes.

Zhu Liping, a CAS researcher leading the lake observation team, said the surface of Serling Tso Lake, for example, had expanded 40 percent between 1976 and 2009.

Since 1990, water in the plateau’s 1,000 lakes has increased by 100 billion cubic meters.

“The volume is equal to three times the water in Three Gorges Dam,” Zhu said. Study will measure the impact on the ecology and its potential link to flooding and drought in the low-lying eastern monsoon region.

Zhu said data will be collected by scientists using automatic boats for the first time and a topographic map will be drawn.

“The plateau climate is becoming warmer and more humid,” said Xu Baiqing, who leads another team to the glaciers.

The team will drill ice cores at three major plateau glacier groups. Buried in the cold interiors of glaciers, ice cores contain well-preserved and detailed records of climate change in a century.

The impact of climatic changes would be assessed and proposals for conservation and rational development of resources formulated.

On the archaeological front, scientists will look for evidence that can prove an earlier archaeological discovery of a Paleolithic ruins in the Serling Tso suggesting that humans might have been lived on this part of the world since some 30,000 years ago.

Archaeologists will try to answer why humans came to this plateau, where did they come from, and how did they adapt to high altitude living, according to team leader Deng Tao, deputy director of Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, under CAS.

A fourth team will research the biological diversity on the plateau and draw up a habitat map for preservation and tourism purposes.

A national park might be set up in Serling Tso.

The expedition will also take scientists to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and a pass linking to south Asia.





The expedition team heads for Serling Tso Lake, the first stop of  the second scientific

 expedition to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau on June 17, 2017.   Photo by Jigme Doje








LHASA  |   2017-06-22 19:05:35


Growing pains

of Tibet’s largest lake


By Lou Chen, Lü Nuo and Wang Qinou



The area where Rigzin Chophel played with his childhood friends is now at the bottom of a lake, and he is worried that more land will be submerged.

The 45-year-old herdsman lives in Tseten village on the southern bank of Serling Tso Lake, which has expanded over 40 percent between 1976 and 2009.

The village has around 42,000 hectares of land for herdsmen to raise their cattle. Rigzin has been the director of the village Party committee for the last 15 years.

“Over a dozen families have complained to me that their land has been inundated by the lake. Five of them have suffered great losses,” he said.

Herdsman Nordey pointed toward a lakeside area, and said that was where he used to live.

“About six years ago, the lake was expanding very fast. There were fences between my house and the lake, and every year I had to move the fences closed to the house,” he said. The herdsman said he has now built a new home a few miles back away from the lake.

Ten years ago, the lake was expanding at an even faster pace than it is now, said Rigzin. “We marked the area of the lake. It expanded by 20 to 30 steps a year, especially noticeable low-lying areas,” said Rigzin.

According to the latest data, which was obtained in 2014, Serling Tso measured 2,391 square kilometers. It has replaced the Buddhist holy lake Namtso as Tibet’s largest lake at about 45.5 kilometers wide and 77.7 kilometers long.

Since 1990, the plateau’s 1,000 lakes have seen an increase of 100 billion cubic meters of water, with Serling Tso probably the fastest-growing lake, according to scientists from the Institute of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Research of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

Preliminary studies by the CAS found that precipitation contributed 76.5 percent of the increase, thawing glaciers about 9.5 percent and diminishing evaporation contributed about 14 percent.

CAS scientists said they will continue to unravel the mystery behind the lake expansion and attempt to find solutions for its future development.

About 100 scientists recently began a expedition on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to study changes in climate, biodiversity, and environment. The expedition, which will last for five to 10 years, is the second of its kind in the last 40 years.

Zhu Liping, a CAS researcher leading the lake observation team, said they will study the whole water system from Serling Tso to the origin of the Yangtze River.

“We will study the existing lake and river resources, obtain samples and compare new data with that obtained 40 years ago,” said Zhu.

“We hope our study will provide a base for further studies on the development of the eco-system on the Tibetan Plateau,” he said.









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