In September 2011, after the collapse of the Zhuonai Lake in Hoh Xil of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, many years later, the dried lakebed became the source of sandstorms, triggering severe sandstorms. Will the “unique” natural evolution in the Sanjiangyuan region be triggered a chain reaction? Has the ecological environment of the world’s third pole changed? What role should human intervention play? It deserves deep consideration and attention.
Chinese National Geography (No.6, 2020) has a special report on issues related to Zhuonai Lake. The article mentions the scientific investigations conducted by CBCGDF on Zhuonai Lake in 2018 and 2019, and it also quotes the opinions of Dr. Zhou Jinfeng, the Secretary-General of China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) and Dr. Lu Shanlong, deputy researcher of Aerospace Information Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, deputy dean of CBCGDF Beijing Research Institute.
Dr. Zhou believes that the desertification of the beach on the south bank of Zhuonai Lake may cause the Tibetan antelope to lose its most critical birth room! In addition, it is feasible to carry out moderate intervention on the Zhuonai Lake collapse, and it should “respect nature and actively make a difference.” For thousands of years, Tibetan antelopes have always been accustomed to long-distance migration. During the breeding season, female Tibetan antelopes gather their flocks to give birth at Zhuonai Lake in the belly of Hoh Xil, what is the reason for this, it is still a mystery to this day.
Because this area is of great significance to the continuation of the Tibetan antelope species, the continuous desertification of the lake area is destroying the important habitat of the Tibetan antelope, which in turn threatens the entire Tibetan antelope population on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
Dr. Lu Shanlong believes that the expanded sandstorm source area may affect the entire river basin and even the ecological environment of the Yangtze River source. Through active manual intervention, such as the construction of a new water blocking dam at the collapse, to conserve water sources, gradually eliminate the threat of wind and sand and reduce water damage.
Zhuonai Lake’s outburst has become history, but its ecological consequences are emerging. The number of sandstorms in the area is very high and moving sand dunes were found 20 kilometers downstream; and accumulation of wind and sand was found 80 kilometers away. At present, the sand and dust impact of Zhuonai Lake covers a local area, but its future impact cannot be ignored.
After the 2019 expedition, CBCGDF immediately held an expert discussion on the investigation and reported back to the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Central Committee of the National Revolution and Sanjiangyuan National Park, hoping to further promote the attention of relevant departments and take countermeasures.
Against the backdrop of global climate change, the “Chinese water tower” on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is constantly evolving and changing. We should face the consequent ecological problems and stick to the protection of biodiversity.
(Photo credit: CBCGDF expedition team)