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Effect of land surface processes on the Tibetan Plateau's past and its predicted response to global warming: An analytical investigation based on simulation results from the CMIP5 model


Environmental Earth Sciences


Zhen-chao Li,Zhi-gang Wei,Shi-hua Lv,Wen-jie Dong,Yan-hong Gao,Hong Wei,Zhi-yuan Zheng









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Li, ZC

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Tibetan Plateau; Land surface process; Variation trend; CMIP5


Complex interactions between the land surface and atmosphere and the exchange of water and energy have a significant impact on climate. The Tibetan Plateau is the highest plateau in the world and is known as "Earth's third pole''. Because of its unique natural geographical and climatic characteristics, it directly affects China's climate, as well as the world's climate, through its thermal and dynamic roles. In this study, the BCCCSM1.1 model for the simulation results of CMIP5 is used to analyze the variation of the land surface processes of the Tibetan Plateau and the possible linkages with temperature change. The analysis showed that, from 1850 to 2005, as temperature increases, the model shows surface downward short-wave radiation, upward short-wave radiation, and net radiation to decrease, and long-wave radiation to increase. Meanwhile, latent heat flux increases, whereas sensible heat flux decreases. Except for sensible heat flux, the correlation coefficients of land surface fluxes with surface air temperature are all significant at the 99 % significance level. The model results indicate rising temperature to cause the ablation of ice (or snow) cover and increasing leaf area index, with reduced snowfall, together with a series of other changes, resulting in increasing upward and downward long-wave radiation and changes in soil moisture, evaporation, latent heat flux, and water vapor in the air. However, rising temperature also reduces the difference between the surface and air temperature and the surface albedo, which lead to further reductions of downward and upward short-wave radiation. The surface air temperature in winter increases by 0.93 degrees C/100 years, whereas the change is at a minimum (0.66 degrees C/100 years) during the summer. Downward short-wave and net radiation demonstrate the largest decline in the summer, whereas upward short-wave radiation demonstrates its largest decline during the spring. Downward short-wave radiation is predominantly affected by air humidity, followed by the impact of total cloud fraction. The average downward short-wave and net radiation attain their maxima in May, whereas for upward short-wave radiation the maximum is in March. The model predicts surface temperature to increase under all the different representative concentration pathway (RCP) scenarios, with the rise under RCP8.5 reaching 5.1 degrees C/100 years. Long-wave radiation increases under the different emission scenarios, while downward short-wave radiation increases under the low-and medium-emission concentration pathways, but decreases under RCP8.5. Upward short-wave radiation reduces under the various emission scenarios, and the marginal growth decreases as the emission concentration increases.