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Jing Sun
,
Kun Yang
,
Yan Yu
,
Hui Lu
, and
Yanluan Lin

Abstract

The Tibetan Plateau (TP) has become wetter and warmer during the past four decades, which leads to an adjustment in the surface energy budget, characterized by enhanced surface latent heat and weakened surface sensible heat. However, the impacts of these surface energy changes on climate are unclear. In this study, we investigate the atmospheric response to the altered surface energy budget in the monsoon season over the TP using regional climate simulations. The inhibited surface sensible heating weakens the thermal effect of the TP, which further suppresses low-level convergence and upper-level divergence, thereby weakening the water vapor flux convergence over the plateau. The weakening of low-level air humidity by this dynamical response exceeds the supply from the enhanced surface evaporation, causing decreased precipitation (decreasing more in the wet eastern plateau and less in the dry west). Further analyses show that the precipitation frequency increases mainly for light precipitation while decreasing for heavy precipitation. It is thus demonstrated that on the TP, land surface energy–atmosphere interactions can mitigate the rate of precipitation increase, suppress the increase in frequency of heavy precipitation, and weaken the east–west contrast in precipitation amount, through a dynamical mechanism. Overall, land–atmosphere interactions on the TP exert negative feedback to partially offset the accelerated plateau water cycle under a changing climate.

Restricted access
Jing Sun
,
Kun Yang
,
Weidong Guo
,
Yan Wang
,
Jie He
, and
Hui Lu

Abstract

The Inner Tibetan Plateau (ITP; also called the Qiangtang Plateau) appears to have experienced an overall wetting in summer (June, July, and August) since the mid-1990s, which has caused the rapid expansion of thousands of lakes. In this study, changes in atmospheric circulations associated with the wetting process are analyzed for 1979–2018. These analyses show that the wetting is associated with simultaneously weakened westerlies over the Tibetan Plateau (TP). The latter is further significantly correlated with the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) on interdecadal time scales. The AMO has been in a positive phase (warm anomaly of the North Atlantic Ocean sea surface) since the mid-1990s, which has led to both a northward shift and weakening of the subtropical westerly jet stream at 200 hPa near the TP through a wave train of cyclonic and anticyclonic anomalies over Eurasia. These anomalies are characterized by an anomalous anticyclone to the east of the ITP and an anomalous cyclone to the west of the ITP. The former weakens the westerly winds, trapping water vapor over the ITP while the latter facilitates water vapor intruding from the Arabian Sea into the ITP. Accordingly, summer precipitation over the ITP has increased since the mid-1990s.

Open access
Xu Yuan
,
Kun Yang
,
Hui Lu
,
Jing Sun
,
Yan Wang
,
Yubo Liu
, and
Qiuhong Tang

Abstract

The Southeast Tibetan Plateau (SETP) is a major region where many low-latitude glaciers are located, with spring precipitation being a major input of the glacier mass balance. This study shows that early spring precipitation has decreased significantly since 1999, which is attributed to declined moisture contribution from the far-field sources (west of 70°E) induced by the weakened subtropical westerlies. The possible physical mechanism underlying this change has also been revealed. It is found that snow-cover extent (SCE) in March reduced in midlatitude Eurasia after 1999; meanwhile, strong solar radiation during this month may have exacerbated snow melting through snow albedo–radiation interactions. These two processes led to warming and caused a strong anticyclone over midlatitude Eurasia that weakened the subtropical westerlies near 30°N. This decadal change in the subtropical westerlies led to a decrease in moisture transport upstream. As a result, the windward slopes of large terrain along the latitudinal belt near 30°N received less precipitation, and the decrease in SETP precipitation was part of this change. A further analysis shows that the positive correlation between the westerlies and precipitation has weakened since 1999.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to reveal the decreased early spring precipitation and explore its possible physical mechanism in the Southeast Tibetan Plateau (SETP), which is crucial to understand the shrinkage of the local glacier. Our results indicate that the reduction of snow cover in midlatitude Eurasia since 1999 and the strong solar radiation in March contributed to the weakening subtropical westerlies, which further resulted in the decreasing precipitation in the SETP and other windward slopes of large terrain along the latitudinal 30°N belt in Eurasia.

Restricted access
Jinghua Chen
,
Xiaoqing Wu
,
Yan Yin
,
Chunsong Lu
,
Hui Xiao
,
Qian Huang
, and
Liping Deng

ABSTRACT

The influence of surface heat fluxes on the generation and development of cloud and precipitation and its relative importance to the large-scale circulation patterns are investigated via cloud-resolving model (CRM) simulations over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) during boreal summer. Over the lowland (e.g., along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River), the dynamical and thermal properties of the atmosphere take more responsibility than the surface heat fluxes for the triggering of heavy rainfall events. However, the surface thermal driving force is a necessary criterion for the triggering of heavy rainfall in the eastern and western TP (ETP and WTP). Strong surface heat fluxes can trigger shallow convections in the TP. Furthermore, moisture that is mainly transported from the southern tropical ocean has a greater influence on the heavy rainfall events of the WTP than those of the ETP. Cloud microphysical processes are substantially less active and heavy rainfall cannot be produced when surface heat fluxes are weakened by half in magnitude over the TP. In addition, surface heating effects are largely responsible for the high occurrence frequency of convection during the afternoon, and the cloud tops of convective systems show a positive relationship with the intensity of surface heat fluxes.

Full access
Pengfei Shi
,
Bin Wang
,
Yujun He
,
Hui Lu
,
Kun Yang
,
Shiming Xu
,
Wenyu Huang
,
Li Liu
,
Juanjuan Liu
,
Lijuan Li
, and
Yong Wang

Abstract

The land surface is a potential source of climate predictability over the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes but has received less attention than sea surface temperature in this regard. This study quantified the degree to which realistic land initialization contributes to interannual climate predictability over Europe based on a coupled climate system model named FGOALS-g2. The potential predictability provided by the initialization, which incorporates the soil moisture and soil temperature of a land surface reanalysis product into the coupled model with a dimension-reduced projection four-dimensional variational data assimilation (DRP-4DVar)-based weakly coupled data assimilation (WCDA) system, was analyzed first. The effective predictability (i.e., prediction skill) of the hindcasts by FGOALS-g2 with realistic and well-balanced initial conditions from the initialization were then evaluated. Results show an enhanced interannual prediction skill for summer surface air temperature and precipitation in the hindcast over Europe, demonstrating the potential benefit from realistic land initialization. This study highlights the significant contributions of land surface to interannual predictability of summer climate over Europe.

Open access
Yujun He
,
Bin Wang
,
Juanjuan Liu
,
Yong Wang
,
Lijuan Li
,
Li Liu
,
Shiming Xu
,
Wenyu Huang
, and
Hui Lu

Abstract

Accurately predicting the decadal variations in Sahel rainfall has important implications for the lives and economy in the Sahel. Previous studies found that the decadal variations in sea surface temperature (SST) in the Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean, and Pacific contribute to those in Sahel rainfall. This study evaluates the decadal prediction skills of Sahel rainfall from all the available hindcasts contributing to phases 5 and 6 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5 and CMIP6), in comparison with the related uninitialized simulations. A majority of the prediction systems show high skill with regard to Sahel rainfall. The high skill may be partly attributed to external forcings, which are reflected in good performance of the respective uninitialized simulations. The decadal prediction skills of the key SST drivers and their relationships with the Sahel rainfall are also assessed. Both the hindcasts and the uninitialized simulations generally present high skill for the Atlantic multidecadal variability (AMV) and Mediterranean Sea SST indices and low skill for the Indian Ocean basin mode (IOBM) and interdecadal Pacific variability (IPV) indices. The relationship between the Sahel rainfall and the AMV or Mediterranean Sea SST index is reasonably captured by most prediction systems and their uninitialized simulations, while that between the Sahel rainfall and the IOBM or IPV index is captured by only a few systems and their uninitialized simulations. The high skill of the AMV and Mediterranean Sea SST indices as well as the reasonable representations of their relationships with the Sahel rainfall by both the hindcasts and uninitialized simulations probably plays an important role in predicting the Sahel rainfall successfully.

Significance Statement

Predicting Sahel rainfall on the decadal time scale is of great importance. This study provides a thorough evaluation of the decadal prediction skills of Sahel rainfall in the current decadal prediction systems participating in phases 5 and 6 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5 and CMIP6). A majority of the systems achieve high prediction skill of Sahel rainfall, which probably results from the high prediction skill of some key sea surface temperature (SST) drivers, especially in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea SST, and their relationships with Sahel rainfall. This study provides a reference for better understanding the predictability of Sahel rainfall.

Restricted access
Yan Wang
,
Kun Yang
,
Zhengyang Pan
,
Jun Qin
,
Deliang Chen
,
Changgui Lin
,
Yingying Chen
,
Lazhu
,
Wenjun Tang
,
Menglei Han
,
Ning Lu
, and
Hui Wu

Abstract

The southern Tibetan Plateau (STP) is the region in which water vapor passes from South Asia into the Tibetan Plateau (TP). The accuracy of precipitable water vapor (PWV) modeling for this region depends strongly on the quality of the available estimates of water vapor advection and the parameterization of land evaporation models. While climate simulation is frequently improved by assimilating relevant satellite and reanalysis products, this requires an understanding of the accuracy of these products. In this study, PWV data from MODIS infrared and near-infrared measurements, AIRS Level-2 and Level-3, MERRA, ERA-Interim, JRA-55, and NCEP final reanalysis (NCEP-Final) are evaluated against ground-based GPS measurements at nine stations over the STP, which covers the summer monsoon season from 2007 to 2013. The MODIS infrared product is shown to underestimate water vapor levels by more than 20% (1.84 mm), while the MODIS near-infrared product overestimates them by over 40% (3.52 mm). The AIRS PWV product appears to be most useful for constructing high-resolution and high-quality PWV datasets over the TP; particularly the AIRS Level-2 product has a relatively low bias (0.48 mm) and RMSE (1.83 mm) and correlates strongly with the GPS measurements (R = 0.90). The four reanalysis datasets exhibit similar performance in terms of their correlation coefficients (R = 0.87–0.90), bias (0.72–1.49 mm), and RMSE (2.19–2.35 mm). The key finding is that all the reanalyses have positive biases along the PWV seasonal cycle, which is linked to the well-known wet bias over the TP of current climate models.

Full access
Tiangang Yuan
,
Siyu Chen
,
Jianping Huang
,
Dongyou Wu
,
Hui Lu
,
Guolong Zhang
,
Xiaojun Ma
,
Ziqi Chen
,
Yuan Luo
, and
Xiaohui Ma

Abstract

The Weather Research and Forecasting Model coupled with chemistry (WRF-Chem) associated with in situ measurements and satellite retrievals was used to investigate the meridional transport of Taklimakan Desert (TD) dust, especially in summer. Both satellite observations and simulations reveal that TD dust particles accumulate over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) and the Tianshan Mountains in summer, resulting in higher dust concentration up to 85 μg m−3 here. The proportions of meridional transport of TD dust in summer increase up to 30% of the total output dust over the TD. Further, the impacts of thermal and dynamic forcing on the meridional transport of TD dust to the TP and Tianshan Mountains are investigated based on composite analysis and numerical modeling. It is found that the weakness of the westerly jet over East Asia significantly decreases the eastward transport of TD dust. More TD dust particles lifted to higher altitude reach up to 8 km induced by the enhanced sensible heating in summer. Under the influence of the northerly airflow over the TD regions, the TD dust particles are strengthened southward and transported to the northern slope of the TP through topographic forcing. Moreover, the cyclonic circulation raises dust particles to higher altitude over the TP. It can further intensify the TP heat source by direct radiative forcing of dust aerosols, which may have a positive feedback to the southward transport of TD dust. This research provides confidence for the investigation of the role of TP dust with regard to the radiation balance and hydrological cycle over East Asia.

Open access