New paper out in Water Resources Research

My paper Air temperature regulates erodible landscape, water and sediment fluxes in the permafrost-dominated catchment on the Tibetan Plateau has been published in WRR! See here

It is well-known that the Tibetan Plateau has the largest Alpine permafrost in the world, yet its impact on riverine water discharge and sediment fluxes have been overlooked by previous studies. To address this critical issue, we analyzed a long-term high-resolution in-situ observed discharge and suspended sediment dataset (33-year’s daily in-situ measurement, 1985-2017) from a permafrost-dominated river basin on the central Tibetan Plateau - likely the world’s longest high-resolution riverine sediment record in undisturbed cold environments (e.g. polar regions and high-altitude regions).

In this study, we proposed a novel concept of a dynamic active contributing drainage area (ACDA) to quantify the active erodible landscape. In permafrost regions a drainage basin is not a static topographically controlled entity, it evolves with seasonal warming. We find over the past three decades the permafrost thaw is expanding ACDA and increasing long-term water discharge and sediment fluxes in the permafrost-dominated river basin on the Tibetan Plateau.

This study makes a significant advance over the literature because it suggests that permafrost thaw on the TP plays a more important role in driving the water and sediment dynamics than previous thought (e.g. glacier-snow melt) and thus should be considered as an important driver, when estimating past and future fluvial water and sediment changes for the Tibetan Plateau. Such findings also have wider implications not only for the many other ungauged permafrost basins of the Tibetan Plateau, but also for other cold regions, such as the Arctic, Antarctic, and high mountain areas of the world.


Additionally, this study highlights the following key points:

  • Climate warming expands the erodible landscape and increases fluvial water and sediment fluxes on the Tibetan Plateau
  • Air temperature regulates seasonal discharge and sediment dynamics by controlling glacier-snow melt and permafrost processes; Rainstorms control fluvial extreme events
  • Active layer freeze-thaw cycle impacts seasonal discharge-sediment relations


Last but not least, the key raw data of this paper can be found in “Data Sharing” of my blog.

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