Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 97, Issue 3–4, pp 265–278 | Cite as

MODIS/Terra observed snow cover over the Tibet Plateau: distribution, variation and possible connection with the East Asian Summer Monsoon (EASM)

  • Zhaoxia PuEmail author
  • Li Xu
Original Paper


Based on the snow cover fraction (SCF) data acquired from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the NASA Terra spacecraft from 2000–2006, statistical analyses are performed to explore the spatial and temporal distribution and variation of the snow cover over the Tibetan Plateau (TP). It is found that the snow persistence over the TP varies in different elevation ranges generally becomes longer with increases in the terrain elevation. In addition, the spatial distribution of the snow cover not only depends on the elevation but also varies with terrain features, such as aspect, slope, and curvature in the local areas. With 7-year observational data, seasonal and interannual variability of snow cover has been detected. There are slight decreasing trends in SFCs from 2000–2006. With MODIS satellite snow-cover fraction data and the National Centers for Environmental Predictions and U.S. Department of Energy NCEP/DOE reanalysis II dataset, the relationship between snow cover anomalies over the TP and the East Asian Summer Monsoon (EASM) is examined. Results indicate that the onset of the EASM is closely associated with snow cover anomalies in the spring. Specifically, a positive (negative) snow cover anomaly is followed by a later (earlier) onset of the EASM.


Tibetan Plateau Snow Cover East Asian Summer Monsoon Snow Water Equivalent East Asia 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are grateful to Dr. Jianping Li and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and reviews. The authors also would like to thank Drs. Vincent Salomonson, James Steenburgh, and Jan Paegle for their valuable comments that greatly improved the first manuscript of this paper. The MODIS snow data used in this study are obtained from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MeteorologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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