Tibetan plateau temperature extreme changes and their elevation dependency from ground‐based observations

Keke Yang, Donglin Guo, Wei Hua, Nick Pepin, Kun Yang, Duo Li

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Temperature extremes have widespread implications for maintenance of the solid water reservoir on the Tibetan Plateau (TP), but their changing spatiotemporal patterns and elevation dependence have not been well understood. Using observations at 124 stations, this study shows that the TP as a whole has experienced increasing intensities/frequencies of warm extremes (0.37°C decade−1/2.4% decade−1) and decreasing intensities/frequencies of cold extremes (0.59°C decade−1/2.4% decade−1) during 1973–2018, and that these changes strengthen as regional mean warming intensifies. Unlike extreme high temperature, trends in extreme low temperature depend strongly on elevation, and the temporal evolution of such elevation-dependency is dominated by rapid snow decline in high altitudes caused by regional mean warming. The stronger regional mean warming, the more significant elevation dependency of trends in extreme low temperatures. These results indicate that TP extreme temperature changes, especially at higher elevations, will become more significant in a warmer future, which has important implications for the ecosystems dependent on high-elevation water resources.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021JD035734
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2022


  • Tibetan Plateau
  • temperature extremes
  • snow depth
  • elevation dependency


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