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World's highest saltwater lake growing due to glacier loss



June 17, 2015
WantChinaTimes

A view of Nam Co in Tibet, May 28. (File photo/Xinhua)

A view of Nam Co in Tibet, May 28. (File photo/Xinhua)

Nam Co, the world's highest saltwater lake, has grown remarkably in volume and surface area in recent years, local observers told Xinhua on Tuesday.

Monitoring data showed that the lake, located in the Tibet autonomous region, has seen its water levels rise about 23 centimeters since 2003, said Zhang Guoshuai, deputy head of the Nam Co observation station under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

It is the largest lake in China by volume and it grew by more than 300 million cubic meters a year over the period, Zhang said.

The lake's surface is 4,725 meters above sea level and its maximum depth is more than 98 meters, he said.

In addition, its surface area has expanded by 50 square kilometers since 2000, compared with an increase of 26 square kilometers recorded between 1970 and 2000.

Zhu Liping, a researcher with the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Research Institute under the CAS, attributed the lake's rapid growth primarily to glacier loss.

"Precipitation and water from melting ice are increasing, much more than the evaporated water," Zhu said.

Monitoring results from the institute show that lakes on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau have seen their surface areas expand by more than 20% during the past 20 years.

Meaning "heavenly lake" in Tibetan, Nam Co is regarded as a sacred lake in Tibetan Buddhism.

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