青藏高原湖泊数量多、分布广、所占面积大，是亚洲水塔的重要组成部分，其受到人类活动的干扰较少，是理解高原生态环境变化机理的钥匙。青藏高原湖泊是气候变化敏感的指示器，在全球快速变暖背景下其对气候变化的响应如何？本研究基于多源遥感数据监测结果，系统地总结了青藏高原湖泊（大于1 km2）在过去近50 a（1976年—2018年）的面积、水位与水量变化等方面的研究进展。主要结论如下：（1）青藏高原湖泊总数量从1970s的1080个增加到2018年的1424个（+32%），湖泊总面积从4万km2扩张到5万km2（+25%），湖泊平均水位上升了约4 m，湖泊水储量增加了近1700亿吨；（2）时间上，湖泊面积、水位和水量变化在1970s—1995年略有下降，随后呈快速但非线性增加的态势；空间上，中—北部湖泊面积、水位与水量增长，南部减少；（3）基于多源遥感数据的湖泊水量平衡定量研究揭示了降水增加是湖泊扩张的主要驱动因素，冰川消融贡献次之。气候与冰冻圈控制的湖泊水量平衡的定量评估及湖泊变化驱动机制研究等是目前面临挑战的前沿科学问题。
Lakes are very sensitive to the impacts of climate change and human activities. The lakes over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) are numerous and extensively distributed; they are an important part of the Asian water towers. Understanding the interactions of the Earth system’s circles and the mechanism of environmental changes on the TP requires less disturbance from human activities. What is the response of TP’s lakes to climate change as sensitive indicators in the context of rapid global warming? Based on the lake area mapping with multispectral images, lake water level changes from satellite altimetry data, and lake water volume changes with digital elevation model. This study synthesizes the research progress of area, level, and water volume changes of lakes (larger than 1 km2) on the TP in the past nearly 50 years. The main conclusions are as follows: (1) the total number of lakes on the TP increased from 1080 in the 1970s to 1424 in 2018 (+32%), the total lake area expanded from 40,000 km2 to 50,000 km2 (+25%), the average water level of lakes increased by approximately 4 m, and the lake water storage increased by nearly 170 billion tons. (2) The changes in lake area, water level, and water volume decreased slightly from the 1970s to 1995, and then showed a rapid but nonlinear increase. The lake area, water level, and volume increased in the north-central plateau but decreased in the south. (3) A quantitative lake water balance based on multisource remote sensing data reveals that increased precipitation is the main driver of lake expansion, followed by glacier ablation contribution. Several scientific frontiers facing the challenge are also summarized as follows: (1) quantitative evaluation of the causes of individual lake change. At present, a quantitative study on the causes of lake change indicates the contribution of glacial mass loss to the increase in lake water volume, and precipitation, evaporation, and permafrost underground ice ablation that contribute to the increase in lake water. New driving data sets should be developed and hydrological models from the watershed scale should be further combined to estimate lake water balance. (2) Driving mechanisms of lake changes. The driving mechanisms of lake changes on the TP are currently analyzed mainly to enhance precipitation on the plateau. In the future, climate dynamics theory and hydrological models should be combined to further improve understanding of the driving mechanisms of spatial and temporal differences between the climate system and the cryosphere affecting lake changes on the TP. (3) New satellite remote sensing technology should be combined to understand the past, present, and future lake evolution on the TP. Remote sensing, as an indispensable modern technical means of air-sky-earth, plays a greater role with the implementation of the Second TP Scientific Expedition and Research plan on the TP, and more new satellites are launched one after another to improve understanding of the evolution pattern and change mechanism of lakes on the TP.