Revisiting recent elevation‐dependent warming on the Tibetan Plateau using satellite‐based data sets

Donglin Guo, Jianqi Sun, Kun Yang, Nick Pepin, Yongming Xu

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    Satellite data, characterized by extensive regional coverage and relatively high spatial resolution, have a distinct advantage for examining elevation‐dependent warming (EDW) across rugged topography in mountain regions where there are sparse in situ observations. Based on recent (2001–2015) comprehensive satellite‐based datasets (surface air temperature, land surface temperature, snow cover, daytime and nighttime cloud), this study finds that annual mean surface air temperature warming rates show rapid decrease above 4500 m despite increasing from 2000 to 4500 m. This indicates a reversal in EDW at the highest elevations on the Tibetan Plateau (TP), which is somehow different from the EDW derived from short‐term land surface temperature presented in an early study. The decrease of warming rate above 4500 m coincides with the elevation at which most of the current solid water resources reside. Thus, their decline may be less rapid than previously thought. Trends in nighttime cloud and snow cover are both correlated with patterns of EDW on the TP, but the leading factor varies on an annual and seasonal basis. Comparing datasets provides important evidence for understanding EDW and its controlling mechanisms in an extreme high‐elevation context.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)8511-8521
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
    Issue number15
    Early online date11 Jul 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2019


    • Tibetan Plateau
    • elevation dependency
    • climate warning
    • satellite data


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