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Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

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Daily and monthly maximum and minimum surface air temperatures at 66 weather stations over the eastern and central Tibetan Plateau with elevations above 2000 m were analyzed for temporal trends and spatial variation patterns during the period 1961–2003. Statistically significant warming trends were identified in various measures of the temperature regime, such as temperatures of extreme events and diurnal temperature range. The warming trends in winter nighttime temperatures were among the highest when compared with other regions. We also confirmed the asymmetric pattern of greater warming trends in minimum or nighttime temperatures as compared to the daytime temperatures. The warming in regional climate caused the number of frost days to decrease significantly and the number of warm days to increase. The length of the growing season increased by approximately 17 days during the 43-year study period. Most of the record-setting months for cold events were found in the earlier part of the study period, while that of the warm events occurred mostly in the later half, especially since the 1990s. The changes in the temperature regime in this region may have brought regional-specific impacts on the ecosystems. It was found that grain production in Qinghai Province, located in the area of prominent warming trends, exhibited strong correlations with the temperatures, although such relationships were obscured by the influence of precipitation in this arid/semiarid environment in juniper tree ring records. In western Sichuan Province under a more humid environment, the tree growth (spruces) was more closely related to the changing temperatures.


Copyright 2006 by the American Geophysical Union.