Luo, DL; Jin, HJ; Du, HQ; Li, C; Ma, Q; Duan, SQ; Li, GS (2020). Variation of alpine lakes from 1986 to 2019 in the Headwater Area of the Yellow River, Tibetan Plateau using Google Earth Engine. ADVANCES IN CLIMATE CHANGE RESEARCH, 11(1), 11-21.

To understand the variations in surface water associated with changes in air temperature, precipitation, and permafrost in the Headwater Area of the Yellow River (HAYR), we studied the dynamics of alpine lakes larger than 0.01 km(2) during 1986-2019 using Google Earth Engine (GEE) platform. The surface areas of water bodies in the HAYR were processed using mass remote sensing images consisting of Landsat TM/ETM+/OLI, Sentinel-2A, and MODIS based on automatic extraction of water indices under GEE. Besides, the lake ice phenology of the Sister Lakes (the Gyaring Lake and the Ngoring Lake) was derived by threshold segmenting of water/ice area ratio. Results demonstrate that the change of surface areas experienced four stages: decreasing during 1986-2004, increasing during 2004-2012, decreasing again during 2012-2017, and increasing again during 2017-2019. Correspondingly, the number of small lakes decreased (-26.5 per year), increased (139.5 per year), again decreased (-109.0 per year), and again increased (433.0 per year). Eight lakes larger than 1 km(2 )disappeared in 2004 but restored afterward. The overall trends in the area of small lakes (0.01-1 km(2)), large lakes (>1 km(2)), and all lakes during 1986-2019 were 0.4, 3.1, and 3.4 km(2) per year, respectively. Although the onsets of freezing, freeze-up, breaking and the break-up of the Sister Lakes varied from year to year, there is no obvious trend regarding the lake ice phenology. Tendencies of lake variations in the HAYR are primarily related to the increased net precipitation and the declined aridity, followed by the construction of hydropower station around the outlet of the Ngoring Lake, as well as permafrost degradation.