Abstract: Background, aim, and scope The Little Ice Age (LIA) is the latest cold climatic event during the Holocene. Delineating glacier change since the LIA is of great importance to understand the character of glacier change and climate change. However, such knowledge is still lacking for some critical regions of the Tibetan Plateau (TP), such as the western Nyainqentanglha Range. This study aims to reconstruct glacier retreat of this mountain and discuss implications for the climate. Materials and methods This paper use Google Earth and ArcGIS 10.3 to reconstruct the extents for 306 LIA glaciers and obtain each glacial area and topographic information. The toe‑to‑headwall altitude ratio (THAR) method is used to estimated glacial equilibrium line altitudes (ELA) and their changes (∆ELA). The Partial Least Squares (PLS) is used to analyze the influence of glacial area and topographic factors on glacier change since the LIA. We also applied ordinary kriging interpolations to ∆ELA and mean annual precipitation to investigate their spatial distribution patterns. Results (1) 847 modern glacier were identified, and the total area was calculated to be ~689.71 km2. 306 LIA glaciers boundaries were delineated, covering a total area of ~746.12 km2. In the study area, glacier area has lost ~31%, and the mean ∆ELA has risen ~58 m since the LIA. (2) PLS regression models suggest that ~71% of the glacier area loss could be explained by glacier area, slope and elevation, and only ~6% of ∆ELA values could be explained by glacial area and topographic factors. (3) The spatial distribution pattern of ∆ELA was the same as precipitation, exhibiting a rising trend from east to west. Discussion Area and topography, especially area, can have a significant impact on the area changes. Glaciers with larger area tended to have lost more area since the LIA, and this result may be due to the larger magnitude of glacier mass balance of the lager glaciers. The change of ELA does not show a strong relationship with local factors, suggesting that it may be controlled mainly by climatic factors. The spatial distribution pattern of ∆ELA is closely related to the Indian Monsoon. Conclusions Glacial area, slope, and elevation have a remarkable influence on glacial area change. The spatial distribution of ∆LIA shows a pronounced relationship with the Indian Monsoon. Recommendations and perspectives Reconstructing the temperature and precipitation during the LIA in the western Nyainqentanglha Range, even in the southern Tibetan Plateau is helpful to understand the paleoclimate and predict the future climate.
Keywords: Little Ice Age; western Nyainqentanglha Range; Glacier change; Indian Monsoon