About 10 yr of TOPEX/Poseidon (T/P) altimetry data have been used to compute time series of lake levels at six inland lakes in China. To verify our T/P data processing strategy, the T/P-derived lake levels at Bosten Lake (west China) and Lake Huron (north America) were compared with lake gauge records: good agreement is found between the T/P and the gauge results. Wavelet spectra indicate annual and interannual variations of these lake levels, which are also sensitive to climate variability. At the interannual timescale, the lake levels of Hulun (north China), Bosten (west China) and Ngangzi (east Tibet) are correlated with precipitation and El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO); in particular, they all respond to the 1997-1998 El Niño. The Bosten lake level has increased monotonically since 1993 due to the increased temperature on Tianshan Mountain, which feeds water into this lake. The lake levels of Hongze and Gaoyou (east China) show minor decreasing trends. The lake level of La'nga (west Tibet) decreased steadily from 1993 to 2001, with a total drop of 4 m. The Ngangzi lake level decreased from 1993 January to 1997 December, but after the peak of the 1997-1998 El Niño the slope was reversed and the lake level has increased monotonically since then. An example given at Bosten Lake shows that waveform contamination over Chinese lakes affects the quality of T/P-derived lake levels and retracking is necessary to mitigate the problem.
- Lake level in China