Yang Zhenniang

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Yang Zhenniang, 1936-


Professor Yang Zhenniang was born in Indonesia in 1936. She graduated from Nanjing East China Institute of Water Resources (now Hohai University) in 1960, majoring in land hydrology. She was first assigned to the Beijing Survey and Design Institute of the Ministry of Water Resources and Electric Power. In early 1961, she came to Lanzhou with the newly established Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology supported by the Central Ministry of Water Resources and Electric Power. She promoted to assistant researcher and shifted to glacier hydrological studies after 1978, mainly responsible for the water resources in the ice water resources research in the project named "China water resources evaluation”. At the same time, she completed the writting of one section in the monograph Introduction to Chinese glacier: “Chinese glacier melt water runoff and its effect on the supply of river ". She was promoted to associate researcher (1986) and researcher (1990). She was elected as a representative of the Lanzhou Municipal People’s Congress for her academic reputation. She has served as a member of the Gansu Provincial CPPCC (Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference) for a long time and was elected as a member of the Standing Committee of the 5th and 6th CPPCC. She compiled glacier hydrology items in Encyclopedia of China, Encyclopedia of Water Resources and agriculture.

Hydrological Achievements[edit]

She is an outstanding glacier and cold region hydrologist in China. She independently wrote the book China's Glacier Water Resources (1991) and led the collaboration with others in 3 monographs including Chinese Cold Region Hydrology (2000), Glacier Hydrology (2001) and more than 70 papers in Chinese and English. The work established the foundation of China's glacier and cold region hydrology.

She found the short-term observational data, which was originally very scattered in time and space, from the archives, started with the study of the relationship between glacier melting, radiation and temperature and combining the characteristics of precipitation, glaciers and snow lines in western mountainous areas to explore the regularity of melt water changes. Then she explored a set of calculation methods for glacier melt water resources. From the amount of glacier melt water in the western mountainous areas and its replenishment to rivers, she proposed a comprehensive calculation of glacier melt water data, which is widely used by glaciers and hydrology at home and abroad.

She focused on the frozen soil hydrology, which was in a blank state. She chose Dongzhibinggou on the northern slope of the Qilian Mountains to establish a frozen soil hydrological experiment site at an altitude of 3400-4400 meters in the upper reaches of the Hei River. Observation items include basic meteorological observation sites, 5 comparative observation points for precipitation in different slope directions and different altitudes, 5 test pits for observing changes in groundwater level, ground temperature freezing and thawing in active layers of frozen soil, observation points for snow cover at the source of the basin, and outlets of the basin in the hydrological observation section, a variety of water samples were also collected for chemical analysis. In addition, the Tian Mountains Glacier Station, an empty ice bucket experimental area at an altitude of 3803-4393 meters, was used for comparative observation. Based on the basic observational data of the experimental watersheds in the Qilian Mountains (11 years) and Tian Mountains (7 years), the relationship between runoff generation mechanisms in alpine mountainous areas was analyzed. The physical quantities of each mechanism such as air temperature, ground temperature, freezing, thawing, water level in the active layer, the temporal and spatial distribution trends of factors such as freezing surfaces, and the comprehensive effects of the above factors on runoff in cold regions, provide important scientific basis for further research on the formation and estimation of ice and snow melt water and precipitation runoff in cold regions, and indicate that runoff in cold regions (including Glaciation zone and permafrost zone) runoff is a more complicated runoff process than glaciation zone.

In December 2013, the International Society of Glaciology awarded Yang Zhenniang a lifetime honorary member, and she became the only Chinese to receive this honor. This title is the highest honor of the International Glacier Society, and is awarded to scientists who have made outstanding contributions to society. From its establishment in 1936 to 2013, no more than 12 scientists have won this honor in the world, and Yang Zhenniang has also become the seventh living scientist to receive this honor.