Climate Dynamics

, Volume 47, Issue 3–4, pp 805–815 | Cite as

Recent accelerating mass loss of southeast Tibetan glaciers and the relationship with changes in macroscale atmospheric circulations

  • Wei Yang
  • Xiaofeng Guo
  • Tandong Yao
  • Meilin Zhu
  • Yongjie Wang


The mass balance history (1980–2010) of a monsoon-dominated glacier in the southeast Tibetan Plateau is reconstructed using an energy balance model and later interpreted with regard to macroscale atmospheric variables. The results show that this glacier is characterized by significant interannual mass fluctuations over the past three decades, with a remarkably high mass loss during the recent period of 2003–2010. Analysis of the relationships between glacier mass balance and climatic variables shows that interannual temperature variability in the monsoonal season (June–September) is a primary driver of its mass balance fluctuations, but monsoonal precipitation tends to play an accentuated role for driving the observed glacier mass changes due to their covariation (concurrence of warm/dry and cold/wet climates) in the monsoon-influenced southeast Tibetan Plateau. Analysis of the atmospheric circulation pattern reveals that the predominance of anticyclonic/cyclonic circulations prevailing in the southeastern/northern Tibetan Plateau during 2003–2010 contributes to increased air temperature and decreased precipitation in the southeast Tibetan Plateau. Regionally contrasting atmospheric circulations explain the distinct mass changes between in the monsoon-influenced southeast Tibetan Plateau and in the north Tibetan Plateau/Tien Shan Mountains during 2003–2010. The macroscale climate change seems to be linked with the Europe-Asia teleconnection.


Glacier mass balance Macroscale atmospheric circulations Southeast Tibetan Plateau 

Supplementary material

382_2015_2872_MOESM1_ESM.docx (87 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 86 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wei Yang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiaofeng Guo
    • 3
  • Tandong Yao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Meilin Zhu
    • 1
  • Yongjie Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau ResearchChinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)BeijingChina
  2. 2.CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Boundary Layer Physics and Atmospheric Chemistry, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)BeijingChina

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