Abstract

Estimates of the time and space variability of the atmospheric heat source over Tibet are presented for the summer of 1979. These estimates rely on new data from the People's Republic of China allowing a better assessment of the surface heat fluxes, and on new satellite data from Nimbus-7 giving the radiation balance at the top of the atmosphere. Our estimates of the atmospheric heat source turned out to be considerably smaller than those provided earlier in the literature, mainly because of different assumptions of the drag coefficient. The atmospheric heat source over Tibet is mainly modulated by the release of latent heat. Over the southeastern and southwestern plateau regions the heat source appears to be in phase with the precipitation yield of the Indian summer monsoon, whereas central Tibet reveals an out-of-phase behavior. Over western Tibet there appears to be hardly any net import of moisture from outside the region, whereas the maintenance of the hydrological cycle over eastern Tibet requires moisture flux convergence from outside the region of up to 40% of the mean rainfall, in agreement with what is known about the surface hydrology of Tibet.

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