Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, CAS

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High resolution dataset of glacier elevation changes in Nyainqentanglha mountains Published

Recently, the team of Prof. JIA Li from the State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science, Aerospace Information Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences has published a series of high resolution datasets of glacier elevation changes in Nyainqentanglha mountains on the National Tibetan Plateau/Third Pole Environment Data Center (, including the glacier elevation changes in Nyainqentanglha mountains on the Tibetan Plateau, three phases (2000‒2013, 2013‒2017 and 2000‒2017) at Namco area in the west section of Nyainqentangula Mountains (WNM), and the first phase from 2000 to 2017 at Kangri Karpo area in the east section of Nyainqentangula Mountains (ENM).

Mountain glaciers are excellent indicators of climate change and have an important role in the terrestrial water cycle and food security in many parts of the world. Glaciers are the major water source of rivers and lakes in the Nyainqentanglha Mountains (NM) region, and the high-resolution Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and glacier elevation change data can be used for glacier mass balance estimation and water resources assessment in the region. At this stage, the satellite-based photogrammetry technique has been widely used to estimate glacier elevation changes. The high spatial resolution ZiYuan-3 (ZY-3) Three-Line-Array (TLA) stereo images can simultaneously provide three view angles of observation images, making it possible to bring up higher resolution glacier elevation change information.

To further exploit the advantages of multi-angle observation of ZY-3/TLA data and to improve the estimation accuracy of glacier elevation change, Prof. JIA Li's team used the Semi-Global Matching (SGM) technique and Co-Registration of Point Clouds to generate a 5-m resolution glacier elevation change dataset for the Nyainqentangula region on the Tibetan Plateau based on the TLA data of the ZY-3. The research results have published an article entitled "Glacier Mass Balance in the Nyainqentanglha Mountains between 2000 and 2017 Retrieved from ZiYuan-3 Stereo Images and the SRTM DEM" in Remote Sensing.

Figure 1. The point cloud of the Parlung No.4 glacier derived by ZY-3 TLA data. (a) The overview of the Parlung No.4 glacier; (b): The point cloud generated with the one pair (NB) combination; (c) The point cloud obtained by fusing the NB (red points), NF (green points) and BF (blue points) observations.

Figure 2. Annual glacier elevation change in the ENM. (a): 2000–2013; (b): 2013–2017; (c): 2000–2017; (d): Annual glacier elevation change versus elevation in 2000–2017. The black dashed line represents zero mass balance (Ren et al., 2020).

This research work is the first time to retrieve glacier elevation change with 5m resolution in the Tibet Plateau region based on the observation data of Ziyun-3 satellite. It provides more detailed spatial distribution of glacier elevation change, which can be used for the validation of other data products or model outputs, providing basic data support for research on glacier mass balance change, water resources assessment and scientific management in the Nyainqentanglha region.

This research was funded by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, grant numbers XDA19070102 and XDA19030203.


Ren, S.; Menenti, M.; Jia, L*.; Zhang, J.; Zhang, J.X.; Li, X. (2020). Glacier Mass Balance in the Nyainqentanglha Mountains between 2000 and 2017 Retrieved from ZiYuan-3 Stereo Images and the SRTM DEM. Remote Sensing, 12(5), 864.

Available at:

Data available at: