Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2007, Vol. 17 ›› Issue (2): 141-151.doi: 10.1007/s11442-007-0141-7

• Climate and Environmental Change • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Climatic trends over the Tibetan Plateau during 1971-2000

WU Shaohong1,2, YIN Yunhe1, ZHENG Du1, YANG Qinye1   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China|
    2. Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, CAS, Beijing 100085, China
  • Received:2006-12-28 Revised:2007-02-11 Online:2007-06-25 Published:2010-09-18
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40171040; Key Project of National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40331006


Trends of annual and monthly temperature, precipitation, potential evapotranspi-ration and aridity index were analyzed to understand climate change during the period 1971–2000 over the Tibetan Plateau which is one of the most special regions sensitive to global climate change. FAO56–Penmen–Monteith model was modified to calculate potential evapotranspiration which integrated many climatic elements including maximum and mini-mum temperatures, solar radiation, relative humidity and wind speed. Results indicate gen-erally warming trends of the annual averaged and monthly temperatures, increasing trends of precipitation except in April and September, decreasing trends of annual and monthly poten-tial evapotranspiration, and increasing aridity index except in September. It is not the isolated climatic elements that are important to moisture conditions, but their integrated and simulta-neous effect. Moreover, potential evapotranspiration often changes the effect of precipitation on moisture conditions. The climate trends suggest an important warm and humid tendency averaged over the southern plateau in annual period and in August. Moisture conditions would probably get drier at large area in the headwater region of the three rivers in annual average and months from April to November, and the northeast of the plateau from July to September. Complicated climatic trends over the Tibetan Plateau reveal that climatic factors have nonlinear relationships, and resulte in much uncertainty together with the scarcity of observation data. The results would enhance our understanding of the potential impact of climate change on environment in the Tibetan Plateau. Further research of the sensitivity and attribution of climate change to moisture conditions on the plateau is necessary.

Key words: climatic trend, evapotranspiration, Penman–Monteith, Tibetan Plateau, China