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Are high altitudinal regions warming faster than lower elevations on the Tibetan Plateau?

Published Online:pp 363-384

We have conducted 12-year field observations along two slopes with altitude differences about 1,200 m (3,250 m to 4,400 m and 4,280 m to 5,538 m) to examine the altitudinal dependence of climate warming in recent years. Annual mean of air temperature during 1951-2014 of 65 meteorological stations on the TP are used to analyze the relationship between elevation and climate warming. We divided the TP into three latitude zones: <30°N, 30°N-35°N and >35°N. We find that climate warming rates decreased significantly with elevation increasing in the three latitude zones. Our 12-year intensive field observations data show a similar result. Therefore, higher altitudes are likely to warm slower on the Tibetan Plateau. In addition to the latitudinal effect, it is perhaps largely contributed by the local environmental changes such as urbanization, land cove changes at lower populated elevation area, and/or the glacier and permafrost melting at high mountains.


air temperature, climate warming, elevation, latitude zone, Tibetan Plateau