Journal of Geographical Sciences

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 409–420

Climate change over the Yarlung Zangbo River Basin during 1961–2005

  • You Qinglong 
  • Kang Shichang 
  • Wu Yanhong 
  • Yan Yuping 

DOI: 10.1007/s11442-007-0409-y

Cite this article as:
You, Q., Kang, S., Wu, Y. et al. J. Geogr. Sci. (2007) 17: 409. doi:10.1007/s11442-007-0409-y


The Yarlung Zangbo River (YR) is the highest great river in the world, and its basin is one of the centers of human economic activity in Tibet. Using 10 meteorological stations over the YR basin in 1961–2005, the spatial and temporal characteristics of temperature and precipitation as well as potential evapotranspiration are analyzed. The results are as follows. (1) The annual and four seasonal mean air temperature shows statistically significant increasing trend, the tendency is more significant in winter and fall. The warming in Lhasa river basin is most significant. (2) The precipitation is decreasing from the 1960s to the 1980s and increasing since the 1980s. From 1961 to 2005, the annual and four seasonal mean precipitation is increasing but not statistically significant, especially in fall and spring. The increasing precipitation rates are more pronounced in Niyangqu and Palong Zangbo river basins, the closer to the upper YR is, the less precipitation increasing rate would be. (3) The annual and four seasonal mean potential evapotranspiration has decreased, especially after the 1980s, and most of it happens in winter and spring. The decreasing trend is most significant in the middle YR and Nianchu river basin. (4) Compared with the Mt. Qomolangma region, Tibetan Plateau, China and global average, the magnitudes of warming trend over the YR basin since the 1970s exceed those areas in the same period, and compared with the Tibetan Plateau, the magnitudes of precipitation increasing and potential evapotranspiration decreasing are larger, suggesting that the YR basin is one of the most sensitive areas to global warming.


Yarlung Zangbo river basin climate change sensitivity 

Copyright information

© Science in China Press 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • You Qinglong 
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kang Shichang 
    • 1
    • 3
  • Wu Yanhong 
    • 4
  • Yan Yuping 
    • 5
  1. 1.Institute of Tibetan Plateau ResearchCASBeijingChina
  2. 2.Graduate University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric ScienceChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina
  4. 4.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchCASBeijingChina
  5. 5.National Climate CenterBeijingChina

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