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  • Author or Editor: Feng Xiao x
  • Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology x
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Yongke Yang
,
Pengfeng Xiao
,
Xueliang Zhang
,
Xuezhi Feng
,
Jiangeng Wang
,
Nan Ye
,
Zuo Wang
,
Guangjun He
, and
Lizao Ye

Abstract

Near-surface air temperature lapse rate (NSATLR) is vital for hydrological simulation and mountain climate research in snowmelt-dominated regions. In this study, NSATLRs of two vertical zones (i.e., mountain grassland–coniferous forest belt and alpine meadow belt) of the Manasi River basin on the northern slope of the Tianshan Mountains were calculated using the near-surface air temperature data from 18 observation stations. Furthermore, temporal variations of NSATLRs of these two vertical zones at seasonal, monthly, and daily scales were analyzed, combined with altitudinal differences of local environments. The results show that the temporal variations of NSATLRs are different between these two vertical zones. The steepest monthly NSATLR occurs in July in the mountain grassland–coniferous forest belt and in April in the alpine meadow belt. In spring, summer, and autumn, the hourly NSATLRs in the mountain grassland–coniferous forest belt generally steepen with increasing solar radiation and vice versa, contrary to those in the alpine meadow belt. During winter, the hourly NSATLRs on sunny days are overall positive at night but negative during the day in the mountain grassland–coniferous forest belt. The findings of this study indicate that it is necessary to divide mountains with similar local environments to the study area into different vertical zones to accurately estimate NSATLR, and the use of a fixed NSATLR for different months and vertical zones is not suitable for snowmelt runoff modeling in snow-dominated regions such as the northern slope of the Tianshan Mountains.

Significance Statement

This study aims to investigate the altitudinal and temporal variations of near-surface air temperature lapse rate (NSATLR) on the northern slope of the Tianshan Mountains and how mountain environments affect NSATLR. This is important because altitudinal differences of mountain environments lead to different NSATLRs, and these altitudinal variations on the northern slope of the Tianshan Mountains are different from those on the Alps at the same latitude. Our results explain how altitudinal differences of mountain environments affect NSATLRs; hence, using a fixed NSATLR for different months and vertical zones is inappropriate, and estimating NSATLRs for different vertical zones is necessary.

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