On July 25, the Lop Nur scientific expedition team composed of experts from the comprehensive hydrology team, the plant team and the geological environment team set off from Beijing, Shijiazhuang, Qinghai and other places to meet in Korla, Xinjiang. Organized by the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) in 2022, the scientific expedition (Phase 3) to Lop Nur and surrounding areas was launched.
In 2020 and 2021, CBCGDF organized experts in the fields of ecology, hydrology, biology, soil, etc. to go deep into Lop Nur and its surrounding areas, where the experts inspected the three main supply rivers of Lop Nur, the Peacock River, the Tarim River and the Qarqan River Basin. A series of stage investigation results have been obtained on hydrological changes, the distribution of wild terrestrial animal and plant species, the distribution of aquatic organisms, and soil types and distribution characteristics, which have laid a solid foundation for later investigations and comprehensive analysis research.
At 6:50 on July 28, the scientific expedition team headed for the second key area of their research, Andir River and its upstream Aksu Kul Lake. The team will observe the vertical distribution of vegetation and the hydrological conditions of rivers and lakes along the route.
With a total length of 232.2km, the Andir River originates from the Aktag Mountain at an altitude of 6512m. When the Andir River flows through the pebbly riverbed, all surface water infiltrates along the riverbed and is converted into subsurface runoff; the middle reaches of the river are seasonal and dry except during mega floods. The subsurface runoff of the Andir River begins to overflow to the surface at Brakebash in the form of springs, which gradually converge into rivers downstream and become the main water supply for the Andir Ranch.
Aksukul Lake, originating from Kanas Glacier, is one of the sources of Andir River. Affected by the warming climate of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the melting of glacial permafrost, the water level of Aksu Kule Lake has been rising rapidly in recent years. The lake area keeps increasing, and is in full overflow state and flowing outward every summer. Currently, the spillway is in an unstable state. During 2010-2020, the water surface of Aksukul Lake increases from 15.5km2 to 50.5km2, with an average annual increase of 3.5km2, of which, about 5.0 km2 per year during 2016-2020. This change will have a profound impact on the ecological environment of the Andir River area, especially on the surface water and groundwater linkages, and on the restoration of ecosystem functions in the area. Therefore, the expedition team focused on the study of the hydrochemical characteristics of surface water and groundwater and their inter-conversion mechanisms in the Aksukul Lake and Andir River area.
Groundwater has an obvious controlling effect on vegetation distribution pattern. The study shows that the structure of riparian vegetation community in the main stream of Tarim River is influenced by groundwater: herbaceous plants grow well when the depth of groundwater is 1-2m; plants were mainly shrubs with groundwater of 2-4m deep; the arbor species grow most vigorously with groundwater of 3-5m deep; while the arbor species grow slowly when the depth of groundwater exceeded 8m. Therefore, to explore the impact of the conversion of surface waters to groundwater on the vegetation communities around Andir River and Aksukul Lake, as well as to provide a basis for the study of groundwater level changes, a sample survey of the vertical distribution of vegetation was conducted along the route.
Original Chinese Article: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/Rr7bsk-Zydfy2q8bQjYO-g
Checked by: Lucy
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