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Tandong Yao
,
Yongkang Xue
,
Deliang Chen
,
Fahu Chen
,
Lonnie Thompson
,
Peng Cui
,
Toshio Koike
,
William K.-M. Lau
,
Dennis Lettenmaier
,
Volker Mosbrugger
,
Renhe Zhang
,
Baiqing Xu
,
Jeff Dozier
,
Thomas Gillespie
,
Yu Gu
,
Shichang Kang
,
Shilong Piao
,
Shiori Sugimoto
,
Kenichi Ueno
,
Lei Wang
,
Weicai Wang
,
Fan Zhang
,
Yongwei Sheng
,
Weidong Guo
,
Ailikun
,
Xiaoxin Yang
,
Yaoming Ma
,
Samuel S. P. Shen
,
Zhongbo Su
,
Fei Chen
,
Shunlin Liang
,
Yimin Liu
,
Vijay P. Singh
,
Kun Yang
,
Daqing Yang
,
Xinquan Zhao
,
Yun Qian
,
Yu Zhang
, and
Qian Li

Abstract

The Third Pole (TP) is experiencing rapid warming and is currently in its warmest period in the past 2,000 years. This paper reviews the latest development in multidisciplinary TP research associated with this warming. The rapid warming facilitates intense and broad glacier melt over most of the TP, although some glaciers in the northwest are advancing. By heating the atmosphere and reducing snow/ice albedo, aerosols also contribute to the glaciers melting. Glacier melt is accompanied by lake expansion and intensification of the water cycle over the TP. Precipitation has increased over the eastern and northwestern TP. Meanwhile, the TP is greening and most regions are experiencing advancing phenological trends, although over the southwest there is a spring phenological delay mainly in response to the recent decline in spring precipitation. Atmospheric and terrestrial thermal and dynamical processes over the TP affect the Asian monsoon at different scales. Recent evidence indicates substantial roles that mesoscale convective systems play in the TP’s precipitation as well as an association between soil moisture anomalies in the TP and the Indian monsoon. Moreover, an increase in geohazard events has been associated with recent environmental changes, some of which have had catastrophic consequences caused by glacial lake outbursts and landslides. Active debris flows are growing in both frequency of occurrences and spatial scale. Meanwhile, new types of disasters, such as the twin ice avalanches in Ali in 2016, are now appearing in the region. Adaptation and mitigation measures should be taken to help societies’ preparation for future environmental challenges. Some key issues for future TP studies are also discussed.

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Yongkang Xue
,
Ismaila Diallo
,
Aaron A. Boone
,
Tandong Yao
,
Yang Zhang
,
Xubin Zeng
,
J. David Neelin
,
William K. M. Lau
,
Yan Pan
,
Ye Liu
,
Xiaoduo Pan
,
Qi Tang
,
Peter J. van Oevelen
,
Tomonori Sato
,
Myung-Seo Koo
,
Stefano Materia
,
Chunxiang Shi
,
Jing Yang
,
Constantin Ardilouze
,
Zhaohui Lin
,
Xin Qi
,
Tetsu Nakamura
,
Subodh K. Saha
,
Retish Senan
,
Yuhei Takaya
,
Hailan Wang
,
Hongliang Zhang
,
Mei Zhao
,
Hara Prasad Nayak
,
Qiuyu Chen
,
Jinming Feng
,
Michael A. Brunke
,
Tianyi Fan
,
Songyou Hong
,
Paulo Nobre
,
Daniele Peano
,
Yi Qin
,
Frederic Vitart
,
Shaocheng Xie
,
Yanling Zhan
,
Daniel Klocke
,
Ruby Leung
,
Xin Li
,
Michael Ek
,
Weidong Guo
,
Gianpaolo Balsamo
,
Qing Bao
,
Sin Chan Chou
,
Patricia de Rosnay
,
Yanluan Lin
,
Yuejian Zhu
,
Yun Qian
,
Ping Zhao
,
Jianping Tang
,
Xin-Zhong Liang
,
Jinkyu Hong
,
Duoying Ji
,
Zhenming Ji
,
Yuan Qiu
,
Shiori Sugimoto
,
Weicai Wang
,
Kun Yang
, and
Miao Yu

Abstract

Subseasonal-to-seasonal (S2S) precipitation prediction in boreal spring and summer months, which contains a significant number of high-signal events, is scientifically challenging and prediction skill has remained poor for years. Tibetan Plateau (TP) spring observed surface ­temperatures show a lag correlation with summer precipitation in several remote regions, but current global land–atmosphere coupled models are unable to represent this behavior due to significant errors in producing observed TP surface temperatures. To address these issues, the Global Energy and Water Exchanges (GEWEX) program launched the “Impact of Initialized Land Temperature and Snowpack on Subseasonal-to-Seasonal Prediction” (LS4P) initiative as a community effort to test the impact of land temperature in high-mountain regions on S2S prediction by climate models: more than 40 institutions worldwide are participating in this project. After using an innovative new land state initialization approach based on observed surface 2-m temperature over the TP in the LS4P experiment, results from a multimodel ensemble provide evidence for a causal relationship in the observed association between the Plateau spring land temperature and summer precipitation over several regions across the world through teleconnections. The influence is underscored by an out-of-phase oscillation between the TP and Rocky Mountain surface temperatures. This study reveals for the first time that high-mountain land temperature could be a substantial source of S2S precipitation predictability, and its effect is probably as large as ocean surface temperature over global “hotspot” regions identified here; the ensemble means in some “hotspots” produce more than 40% of the observed anomalies. This LS4P approach should stimulate more follow-on explorations.

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