Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2012, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (3): 451-469 .doi: 10.1007/s11442-012-0939-9

• Physical Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Temperature variation and abrupt change analysis in the Three-River Headwaters Region during 1961-2010

YI Xiangsheng1,2, LI Guosheng1, YIN Yanyu3,4   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China;
    3. School of Geography, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China;
    4. Key Laboratory of Regional Geography, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Received:2011-10-26 Revised:2011-12-09 Online:2012-06-15 Published:2012-05-04
  • Contact: Li Guosheng, Professor, E-mail:
  • About author:Yi Xiangsheng (1981-), Ph.D, specialized in climate change and grassland degradation. E-mail:
  • Supported by:

    The National Science and Technology Support Plan, No.2009BAC61B01


In this study, a monthly dataset of temperature time series (1961-2010) from 12 meteorological stations across the Three-River Headwater Region of Qinghai Province (THRHR) was used to analyze the climate change. The temperature variation and abrupt change analysis were examined by using moving average, linear regression, Spline interpolation, Mann-Kendall test and so on. Some important conclusions were obtained from this research, which mainly contained four aspects as follows. (1) There were several cold and warm fluctuations for the annual and seasonal average temperature in the THRHR and its three sub-headwater regions, but the temperature in these regions all had an obviously rising trend at the statistical significance level, especially after 2001. The spring, summer, autumn and annual average temperature increased evidently after the 1990s, and the winter average temperature exhibited an obvious upward trend after entering the 21st century. Except the standard value of spring temperature, the annual and seasonal temperature standard value in the THRHR and its three sub-headwater regions increased gradually, and the upward trend for the standard value of winter average temperature indicated significantly. (2) The tendency rate of annual average temperature in the THRHR was 0.36℃10a-1, while the tendency rates in the Yellow River Headwater Region (YERHR), Lancangjiang River Headwater Region (LARHR) and Yangtze River Headwater Region (YARHR) were 0.37℃10a-1, 0.37℃10a-1 and 0.34℃10a-1 respectively. The temperature increased significantly in the south of Yushu County and the north of Nangqian County. The rising trends of temperature in winter and autumn were higher than the upward trends in spring and summer. (3) The abrupt changes of annual, summer, autumn and winter average temperature were found in the THRHR, LARHR and YARHR, and were detected for the summer and autumn average temperature in the YERHR. The abrupt changes of annual and summer average temperatures were mainly in the late 1990s, while the abrupt changes of autumn and winter average temperatures appeared primarily in the early 1990s and the early 21st century respectively. (4) With the global warming, the diversities of altitude and underlying surface in different parts of the Tibetan Plateau were possibly the main reasons for the high increasing rate of temperature in the THRHR.

Key words: temperature variation, inter-annual change, inter-decadal change, standard value change, abrupt change analysis, Three-River Headwaters Region