Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2012, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (5): 795-809.doi: 10.1007/s11442-012-0964-8

• Climate Change • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatial distribution of atmospheric water vapor and its relationship with precipitation in summer over the Tibetan Plateau

ZHOU Shunwu1, WU Ping1, WANG Chuanhui1,2, HAN Juncai1,3   

  1. 1. College of Atmospheric Sciences, Nanjing University of Information Science &|Technology, Nanjing 210044, China;
    2. Anhui Meteorological Bureau, Hefei 230061, China;
    3. Shijiazhuang Meteorological Bureau of Hebei Province, Shijiazhuang 050081, China
  • Received:2012-01-06 Revised:2012-02-16 Online:2012-10-15 Published:2012-10-15


By using the observed monthly mean temperature and humidity datasets of 14 radiosonde stations and monthly mean precipitation data of 83 surface stations from 1979 to 2008 over the Tibetan Plateau (TP), the relationship between the atmospheric water vapor (WV) and precipitation in summer and the precipitation conversion efficiency (PEC) over the TP are analyzed. The results are obtained as follows. (1) The summer WV decreases with increasing altitude, with the largest value area observed in the northeastern part of the TP, and the second largest value area in the southeastern part of the TP, while the northwestern part is the lowest value area. The summer precipitation decreases from southeast to northwest. (2) The summer WV presents two main patterns based on the EOF analysis: the whole region consistent-type and the north-south opposite-type. The north-south opposite-type of the summer WV is similar to the first EOF mode of the summer precipitation and both of their zero lines are located to the north of the Tanggula Mountains. (3) The summer precipitation is more (less) in the southern (northern) TP in the years with the distribution of deficient summer WV in the north while abundant in the south, and vice versa. (4) The PEC over the TP is between 3% and 38% and it has significant spatial difference in summer, which is obviously bigger in the southern TP than that in the northern TP.

Key words: the Tibetan Plateau, water vapor content, precipitation, precipitation conversion efficiency