The Warming of the Tibetan Plateau in Response to Transient and Stabilized 2.0°C/1.5°C Global Warming Targets

Jintao Zhang, Qinglong You, Fangying Wu, Ziyi Cai, Nick Pepin

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As “the third pole”, the Tibetan Plateau (TP) is sensitive to climate forcing and has experienced rapid warming in recent decades. This study analyzes annual and seasonal near-surface air temperature changes on the TP in response to transient and stabilized 2.0°C/1.5°C global warming targets based on simulations of the Community Earth System Model (CESM). Elevation-dependent warming (EDW) with faster warming at higher elevations is predicted. A surface energy budget analysis is adopted to uncover the mechanisms responsible for the temperature changes. Our results indicate a clear amplified warming on the TP with positive EDW in 2.0°C/1.5°C warmer futures, especially in the cold season. Mean TP warming relative to the reference period (1961–90) is dominated by an enhanced downward longwave radiation flux, while the variations in surface albedo shape the detailed pattern of EDW. For the same global warming level, the temperature changes under transient scenarios are ~0.2°C higher than those under stabilized scenarios, and the characteristics of EDW are broadly similar for both scenarios. These differences can be primarily attributed to the combined effects of differential downward longwave radiation, cloud radiative forcing, and surface sensible and latent heat fluxes. These findings contribute to a more detailed understanding of regional climate on the TP in response to the long-term climate goals of the Paris Agreement and highlight the differences between transient and stabilized warming scenarios.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1198-1206
Number of pages9
JournalAdvances in Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number7
Early online date3 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • elevation-dependent warming (EDW)
  • Paris Agreement
  • Tibetan Plateau
  • transient and stablilized warming
  • temperature


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