Abstract: Glaciers are highly sensitive to climate change and are undergoing significant changes in mid-latitudes. In this study, we analyzed the spatiotemporal changes of typical glaciers and their responses to climate change in the period of 1990–2015 in 4 different mountainous sub-regions in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of Northwest China: the Bogda Peak and Karlik Mountain sub-regions in the Tianshan Mountains; the Yinsugaiti Glacier sub-region in the Karakorum Mountains; and the Youyi Peak sub-region in the Altay Mountains. The standardized snow cover index (NDSI) and correlation analysis were used to reveal the glacier area changes in the 4 sub-regions from 1990 to 2015. Glacial areas in the Bogda Peak, Karlik Mountain, Yinsugaiti Glacier, and Youyi Peak sub-regions in the period of 1990–2015 decreased by 57.7, 369.1, 369.1, and 170.4 km², respectively. Analysis of glacier area center of gravity showed that quadrant changes of glacier areas in the 4 sub-regions moved towards the origin. Glacier area on the south aspect of the Karlik Mountain sub-region was larger than that on the north aspect, while glacier areas on the north aspect of the other 3 sub-regions were larger than those on the south aspect. Increased precipitation in the Karlik Mountain sub-region inhibited the retreat of glaciers to a certain extent. However, glacier area changes in the Bogda Peak and Youyi Peak sub-regions were not sensitive to the increased precipitation. On a seasonal time scale, glacier area changes in the Bogda Peak, Karlik Mountain, Yinsugaiti Glacier, and Youyi Peak sub-regions were mainly caused by accumulated temperature in the wet season; on an annual time scale, the correlation coefficient between glacier area and annual average temperature was –0.72 and passed the significance test at P<0.05 level in the Karlik Mountain sub-region. The findings of this study can provide a scientific basis for water resources management in the arid and semi-arid regions of Northwest China in the context of global warming.
摘要：Climate change may affect water resources by altering various processes in natural ecosystems. Dynamic and statistical downscaling methods are commonly used to assess the impacts of climate change on water resources. Objectively, both methods have their own advantages and disadvantages. In the present study, we assessed the impacts of climate change on water resources during the future periods (2020–2029 and 2040–2049) in the upper reaches of the Kaidu River Basin, Xinjiang, China, and discussed the uncertainties in the research processes by integrating dynamic and statistical downscaling methods (regional climate models (RCMs) and general circulation modes (GCMs)) and utilizing these outputs. The reference period for this study is 1990–1999. The climate change trend is represented by three bias-corrected RCMs (i.e., Hadley Centre Global Environmental Model version 3 regional climate model (HadGEM3-RA), Regional Climate Model version 4 (RegCM4), and Seoul National University Meso-scale Model version 5 (SUN-MM5)) and an ensemble of GCMs on the basis of delta change method under two future scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). We applied the hydrological SWAT (Soil and Water Assessment Tool) model which uses the RCMs/GCMs outputs as input to analyze the impacts of climate change on the stream flow and peak flow of the upper reaches of the Kaidu River Basin. The simulation of climate factors under future scenarios indicates that both temperature and precipitation in the study area will increase in the future compared with the reference period, with the largest increase of annual mean temperature and largest percentage increase of mean annual precipitation being of 2.4°C and 38.4%, respectively. Based on the results from bias correction of climate model outputs, we conclude that the accuracy of RCM (regional climate model) simulation is much better for temperature than for precipitation. The percentage increase in precipitation simulated by the three RCMs is generally higher than that simulated by the ensemble of GCMs. As for the changes in seasonal precipitation, RCMs exhibit a large percentage increase in seasonal precipitation in the wet season, while the ensemble of GCMs shows a large percentage increase in the dry season. Most of the hydrological simulations indicate that the total stream flow will decrease in the future due to the increase of evaporation, and the maximum percentage decrease can reach up to 22.3%. The possibility of peak flow increasing in the future is expected to higher than 99%. These results indicate that less water is likely to be available in the upper reaches of the Kaidu River Basin in the future, and that the temporal distribution of flow may become more concentrated.