Swelling lake in China threatens endangered wildlife

Beijing, Oct 19 (IANS) A salt lake on China’s Qinghai-Tibet plateau has tripled in size over years due to climate change, posing a threat to animals living nearby and local infrastructure.

The surface of Hoh Xil lake has grown from 45.89 square km in 2011 to the current 150.41 square km, Xinhua news agency quoted Qinghai Institute of Meteorological Science as saying.

It is located in Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve, home to several endangered species, including Tibetan antelopes and wild yaks.

“The lake’s expansion will erode lakeside grassland and probably damage some nearby communication and transportation facilities,” said Wang Hailin of the reserve’s management bureau.

Though there has been no indication yet of damage to the habitats of antelopes and birds, the risks are mounting, he said.

The Qinghai-Tibet railway, the world’s highest, is also threatened, as the distance between the lake and the track has been shortened from 12 to nine km.

Experts say the expansion of the lake is a result of the thawing of glaciers and increased rainfall under the influence of global warming.

Local authorities have been closely monitoring the expansion of the lake, and are planning to counter it by building dams and diverting water.

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