Satellite Observed Environmental Changes over the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

  • Author(s): Kuo-Hsin Tseng, C. K. Shum, Hyongki Lee, Jianbin Duan, Chungyen Kuo, Shuli Song, and Wenyao Zhu
  • DOI: 10.3319/TAO.2010.09.17.03(TibXS)
  • Keywords: Tibetan Plateau, Climate change, Remote sensing
  • Citation: Tseng, K. H., C. K. Shum, H. Lee, J. Duan, C. Kuo, S. Song, and W. Zhu, 2011: Satellite observed environmental changes over the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Terr. Atmos. Ocean. Sci., 22, 229-239, doi: 10.3319/TAO.2010.09.17.03(TibXS)

We use satellite observed and model atmospheric variables, including land surface temperature, snowfall, snow extent, precipitation, and water vapor contents to study the feasibility of quantifying anthropogenic climate change over high elevation areas such as the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Five types of satellite data and outputs from Atmospheric General Circulation Model (AGCMs) are used to study these climate change indicators: (1) AIRS/AMSU/HSB atmospheric sounding system onboard the Aqua platform, 2003 ~ 2009, (2) Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) onboard Terra, 2001 ~ 2009, (3) The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation measurements, 1999 ~ 2009, (4) the ERA-interim (ECMWF Interim Reanalysis), 1989 ~ 2009, and (5) the Japanese 25-year Reanalysis Project (JRA-25) AGCM data, 1979 ~ 2009. We find that biases exist between temperature observations and model data 0.29 ~ 3.12°C, AIRS and JRA-25, respectively. The trends for each of the atmospheric variables at best have a qualitative agreement, presumably because the data spans of satellite observations are too short (7 ~ 10 years). The temperature trends for 4000 ~ 5000 m over the Plateau are estimated to be 0.01 ~ 0.05°C yr-1, qualitatively agreeing with the published rate of 0.3°C decade-1 over the last three decades using in situ data.

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