Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory reveals a lack of snow and ice on the Tibetan Plateau, which is often referred to as the “Third Pole.”
According to NASA, the high-elevation landscapes of this region contain the largest reserve of freshwater outside the polar regions.
The water is stored in tens of thousands of glaciers scattered across the Tibetan Plateau and the surrounding mountains. In addition to vanishing sea ice from rising temperatures, meltwater runoff is also a big threat to the future of fresh water from the Third Pole.
The image is focused in particular on lakes west of the Tanggula Mountains, a small range in the central part of the Tibetan Plateau.
The two largest lakes – Chibzhang Co and Dorsoidong Co -have grown larger over time as the glaciers have shrunk.
According to one team of researchers, the area of the lakes grew by 23 percent between 1976 and 2017.
A separate study found that between 1977 and 2014, the number of lakes in the Tibetan Plateau has increased by 235 and the area covered increased by 18 percent.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory
By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer