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Wei-Chyung Wang, Qing-Yun Zhang, David R. Easterling, and Thomas R. Karl


Two aspects of Beijing cloudiness are studied: its relationship to other climate parameters during the period 1951–1990 and the reconstruction of proxy values between 1875 and 1950. For the recent period, cloudiness varies with no apparent trend and is highly correlated with the total number of rain days (r=0.77) and total sunshine duration (r=0.72). Good correlation is also found with maximum surface air temperature, surface relative humidity, and total precipitation. While the correlation between cloudiness and solar radiation was large prior to 1976, the coefficient for the period 1976–1990 is much smaller. This decrease can be attributed to a negative trend in solar radiation, which is consistent with an observed decrease in visibility. Variations in Beijing cloudiness are closely related to those found over most of northern China, while little similarity is found with locations south of 35°N.

The large correlation between annual cloudiness and the total number of rain days between 1951 and 1990 was used in conjunction with the observed rain day record for the period 1875–1950 to construct a proxy cloudiness record for Beijing for the period 1875–1950. Comparisons between proxy cloudiness and available observations of surface air temperature and relative humidity reveal that the relationships are consistent with those found when observed cloudiness is compared with observed temperature and humidity data. On the century time scale, there is no clear trend in percent cloudiness. However, on the decadal time scale, there is a negative trend in cloudiness during the period 1880–1930 followed by a period of relatively constant values between 1940 and 1975.

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