Contrasting hydrological and thermal intensities determine seasonal lake-level variations – a case study at Paiku Co on the southern Tibetan Plateau

Lei, Yanbin; Yao, Tandong; Yang, Kun; Lazhu,; Ma, Yaoming; Bird, Broxton W.

Evaporation from hydrologically closed lakes is one of the largest components of the lake water budget; however, its effects on seasonal lake-level variations remain unclear on the Tibetan Plateau (TP) due to a lack of comprehensive observations. In this study, weekly lake evaporation and its effects on seasonal lake-level variations are investigated at Paiku Co on the southern TP using in situ observations of thermal structure and hydrometeorology (2015–2018). Lake evaporation from Paiku Co was estimated to be inline-formula975±142inline-formulamm during the ice-free period (May to December), characterized by low values of 1.7 inline-formula± 0.6 inline-formulamm d−1 during the pre-monsoon season (May to June), high values of inline-formula5.5±0.6inline-formulamm d−1 during the post-monsoon season (October to December), and intermediate values of inline-formula4.0±0.6inline-formulamm d−1 during the monsoon season (July to September). There was a inline-formula∼ 5-month lag between the maximum net radiation (June) and maximum lake evaporation (November). These results indicate that the seasonal pattern of lake evaporation from Paiku Co was significantly affected by the large lake heat storage. Contrasting hydrological and thermal intensities may play an important role in the large amplitude of seasonal lake-level variations at deep lakes like Paiku Co. High inflow from monsoon precipitation and glacier melting and moderate lake evaporation, for instance, drove rapid lake-level increase during the monsoon season. In contrast, high lake evaporation and reduced inflow caused lake level to decrease significantly during the post-monsoon season. This study implies that lake evaporation may play an important role in the different amplitudes of seasonal lake-level variations on the TP.

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Lei, Yanbin / Yao, Tandong / Yang, Kun / et al: Contrasting hydrological and thermal intensities determine seasonal lake-level variations – a case study at Paiku Co on the southern Tibetan Plateau. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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