Siling Lake on the Tibetan Plateau •

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features Siling Lake, which is one of the largest water bodies on the Tibetan Plateau. The photo was captured by an astronaut omboard the International Space Station while orbiting over the northern part of the plateau.

“Located at an elevation of approximately 4,500 meters (14,860 feet), Siling Lake is a high-altitude endorheic lake, which means that it does not drain through any outlets,” said NASA.

“The lake is fed by precipitation – approximately 38 centimeters (15 inches) per year – as well as runoff from rain, snow, and glacial meltwater from the surrounding landscape. Siling Lake is a saline water body due to the lack of outflow, which concentrates salts as the lake water evaporates.”

While bodies of water on the southern Tibetan Plateau have been shrinking in recent years, lakes in the north have been growing. According to NASA, Siling Lake has been growing since the 1970s.

The lake and its surrounding areas are relatively uninhabited due to the harsh climate and remote location. However, it serves as an important site for wildlife, particularly for migratory birds and some unique species of fish that have adapted to its saline environment.

Culturally, Siling Lake holds significance for the Tibetan people. The region around the lake is sparsely populated, primarily by Tibetan nomads who graze their livestock on the surrounding pastures. The lake itself is often a site for traditional and religious activities.

In terms of ecology, the lake and its surrounding areas are part of a delicate high-altitude ecosystem. The region is marked by a cold, arid climate with limited vegetation, mainly consisting of hardy grasses and shrubs. The environmental conditions, combined with the lake’s saline nature, create a unique habitat for a variety of wildlife.

Siling Lake is not a major tourist destination, but it attracts a number of adventure travelers and nature enthusiasts who are drawn to its stark beauty and the challenge of exploring one of the more remote areas of the Tibetan plateau. Visitors to the area should be prepared for the high altitude and the lack of facilities, as amenities are minimal in this largely untouched landscape.

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

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