XINING, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- The surface area of China's largest inland saltwater lake has expanded over the past decade, as rainfall increases and temperatures rise, according to the latest survey.
The surface area of Qinghai Lake, situated in northwest China's Qinghai Province, reached 4,429.3 square km in September 2016, an increase of 169.7 square km from the same period in 2004, according to the Provincial Geomatics Center of Qinghai.
The record size of the lake was 4,477.53 square kilometers, recorded in 1974.
The lake has been expanding since 2005 due to abundant precipitation in surrounding areas and more snow melting due to warm weather.
In 2008, Qinghai invested 1.6 billion yuan (230 million U.S. dollars) in grassland restoration and reforestation projects to prevent the desert area around the lake from expanding.
Qinghai Lake plays an important role in the ecological security of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The lake had been shrinking since the 1950s, but the combined effects of conservation and changes to the regional climate turned things around in 2005.