Recent Progress in the Impact of the Tibetan Plateau on Climate in China
- Manuscript received: 2007-11-10
- Manuscript revised: 2007-11-10
Abstract: Studies of the impacts of the Tibetan Plateau (TP) on climate in China in the last four years are reviewed. It is reported that temperature and precipitation over the TP have increased during recent decades. From satellite data analysis, it is demonstrated that most of the precipitation over the TP is from deep convection clouds. Moreover, the huge TP mechanical forcing and extraordinary elevated thermal forcing impose remarkable impacts upon local circulation and global climate. In winter and spring, stream flow is deflected by a large obstacle and appears as an asymmetric dipole, making East Asia much colder than mid Asia in winter and forming persistent rainfall in late winter and early spring over South China. In late spring, TP heating contributes to the establishment and intensification of the South Asian high and the abrupt seasonal transition of the surrounding circulations. In summer, TP heating in conjunction with the TP air pump cause the deviating stream field to resemble a cyclonic spiral, converging towards and rising over the TP. Therefore, the prominent Asian monsoon climate over East Asia and the dry climate over mid Asia in summer are forced by both TP local forcing and Eurasian continental forcing. Due to the longer memory of snow and soil moisture, the TP thermal status both in summer and in late winter and spring can influence the variation of Eastern Asian summer rainfall. A combined index using both snow cover over the TP and the ENSO index in winter shows a better seasonal forecast. On the other hand, strong sensible heating over the Tibetan Plateau in spring contributes significantly to anchor the earliest Asian monsoon being over the eastern Bay of Bengal (BOB) and the western Indochina peninsula. Qualitative prediction of the BOB monsoon onset was attempted by using the sign of meridional temperature gradient in March in the upper troposphere, or at 400 hPa over the TP. It is also demonstrated by a numerical experiment and theoretical study that the heating over the TP leads to a significant variability in the atmospheric circulation on a quasi-biweekly timescale, bearing much similarity to that found from observational studies. Finally, some important issues for further work in understanding the impacts of the TP are raised.