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Xuefeng Cui, Hans-F. Graf, Baerbel Langmann, Wen Chen, and Ronghui Huang

Abstract

The hydrological impact of forest removal on the southeast Tibetan Plateau during the second half of the last century is investigated in this study using an atmospheric general circulation model. The effects of deforestation are investigated by examining the differences between the forest replacement and control experiments. Model results demonstrate that deforestation of the southeast Tibetan Plateau would influence the local and the remote climate as well. It would lead to decreased transpiration and increased summer precipitation in the deforested area and a wetter and warmer climate on the Tibetan Plateau in summer. This may produce more runoff into the rivers originating from the Tibetan Plateau and worsen flooding disasters in the downstream areas. The numerical experiments also show that deforestation would remotely impact Asian climate, and even global climate, although the statistical significance is small. A strong drought is found at middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, where livelihoods and economics have suffered from recent droughts. Ecosystem research on the Tibetan Plateau is a relatively new topic and needs further interdisciplinary investigation.

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