Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 113, Issue 3–4, pp 671–682 | Cite as

Temperature lapse rate in complex mountain terrain on the southern slope of the central Himalayas

  • D. B. Kattel
  • T. Yao
  • K. Yang
  • L. Tian
  • G. Yang
  • D. Joswiak
Original Paper


This study presents the first results of monthly, seasonal and annual characteristics of temperature lapse rate on the southern slope of the central Himalayas, based on 20 years record of surface air temperature at 56 stations in Nepal. These stations are located at a range of elevations between 72 and 3,920 m above sea level. It is proven that the lapse rate can be calculated with a linear regression model. The annual cycle of temperature lapse rate exhibits a bi-modal pattern: two maxima in the pre- and post-monsoon seasons respectively separated by two minima in winter and summer, respectively. This pattern is different from the findings from the other mountain regions and suggests different controlling factors in the individual seasons. The highest temperature lapse rate occurs in the pre-monsoon and is associated with strong dry convection (i.e., corresponding to the clear weather season and considerable sensible heat flux). The post-monsoon has the second highest lapse rate, and its cause is similar to the pre-monsoon season but with a relatively small thermal forcing effect after the rainy summer. The lowest lapse rate occurs in winter and is associated with strong radiative cooling and cold air flows over low-elevation areas. The summer lapse rate minimum is due to latent heating over the higher elevations and reduced solar heating over the lower elevations.


Lapse Rate Cloud Cover Southern Slope Climate Research Unit Flat Terrain 
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 National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grants No. 41190081, 40830638 and 40810019001) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences Third Pole Environment Program (GJHZ 0906) supported this work. The authors thank the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, Government of Nepal for providing the data. We also thank Dr. Gareth Hearn, the editor, and the anonymous reviewer for providing valuable comments to revise this paper and Meri Joswiak for assistance with English editing.


  1. Barry RG (2002) Mountain climate change and cryospheric: a review. In: Berger T. et al. (eds). Mountain of the world. Proceedings of the World Mountain Symposium (WMS 2001), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Bern, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  2. Barry RG, Chorley RJ (2003) Atmosphere, weather and climate, 8th edition (1st edition 1968). Routledge, London, p 25Google Scholar
  3. Bhutiyani MR, Kale VS, Pawar NJ (2007) Long term trends in maximum, minimum and mean annual temperatures across the northwestern Himalaya during the twentieth century. Clim Chang 85:159–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blandford TR, Humes KS, Harshburger BJ, Moore BC, Walden VP, Ye H (2008) Seasonal and synoptic variations in near-surface air temperature lapse rates in a mountainous basin. J Applied Meteorol Climatol 47:249–261. doi: 10.1175/2007JAMC1565.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Critchfield HJ (2004) General climatology, 4th edition (1st edition 1983). Prentice-Hall, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  6. Devkota LP (2004) Climate variability over Nepal: observations, forecasting, model evaluation and impacts on agriculture and water resources. Dissertation, Tribhuvan University, Nepal.Google Scholar
  7. Diaz HF, Bradley RS (1997) Temperature variations during the last century at high elevation sites. Clim Chang 36:253–279. doi: 10.1023/A:1005335731187 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dimri AP (2007) The transport of momentum, sensible heat, potential energy and moisture over the western Himalayas during the winter season. Theor Appl Climatol 90:49–63. doi: 10.1007/s00704-006-0274-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dobrowski SZ, Abatzoglou JT, Greenberg JA, Schladow SG (2009) How much influence does landscape-scale physiography have on air temperature in a mountain environment? Agric For Meteorol 149:1751–1758CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Flohn H (1957) Large-scale aspects of the “summer monsoon” in south and east Asia. J Meteorol Soc Jpn 35:180–186Google Scholar
  11. Flohn H (1968) Contribution to meteorology of the Tibetan Highland. Atmospheric Science Paper No. 130. Colorado University, Fort Collins, 1080523Google Scholar
  12. Gardner AS, Sharp MJ, Koerner RM, Labine C, Boon S, Marshall SJ, Burgess DO, Lewis D (2009) Near-surface temperature lapse rates over Arctic Glaciers and their implications for temperature downscaling. J Clim 22(16):4281–4298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gouvas MA, Sakellariou NK, Kambezidis HD (2011) Estimation of the monthly and annual mean maximum and mean minimum air temperature values in Greece. Meteorol Atmos Phys 110:143–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Grubbs FE (1950) Sample criteria for testing outlying observations. Ann Math Stat 21:27–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Grubbs FE (1969) Procedures for detecting outlying observations in samples. Technometrics 11(1):13–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Harlow RC, Burke EJ, Scott RL, Shuttleworth WJ, Brown CM, Petti JR (2004) Derivation of temperature lapse rates in semi-arid south-eastern Arizona. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 8(6):1179–1185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ichiyanagi K, Yamanaka MD, Muraji Y, Vaidya BK (2007) Precipitation in Nepal between 1987 and 1996. Int J Climatol 27:1753–1762. doi: 10.1002/joc.1492 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kansakar SL, Hannah DM, Gerrard J, Ress G (2004) Spatial pattern in the precipitation regime of Nepal. Int J Climatol 24:1645–1659CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kurosaki Y, Kimura F (2002) Relationship between topography and daytime cloud activity around Tibetan Plateau. J Meteor Soc Japan 80:1339–1355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lang TJ, Barros AP (2002) An investigation of the onsets of the 1999 and 2000 monsoons in Central Nepal. Mon Weather Rev 131:1408–1427Google Scholar
  21. Laughlin GP (1982) Minimum temperature and lapse rate in complex terrain: Influencing factors and prediction. Arch Met Geoph Biokl Ser B 30:141–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Marshall SJ, Sharp MJ, Burgess DO, Anslow FS (2007) Near-surface-temperature lapse rates on the Prince of Walse Icefield, Ellesmere Island, Canada: Implications for regional downscaling of temperature. Int J Climatol 27:385–398. doi: 10.1002/joc.1396 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Minder JR, Mote PW, Lundquist JD (2010) Surface temperature lapse rates over complex terrain: lessons from the Cascade Mountains. J Geophys Res 115:D14122. doi: 10.1029/2009JD013493 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mokhov II, Akperov MG (2006) Tropospheric lapse rate and its relation to surface temperature from reanalysis data. Izvestiya Atmos Ocean Phys 42(4):430–438. doi: 10.1134/S0001433806040037 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pepin N (2001) Lapse rate changes in Northern England. Theor Appl Climatol 68:1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pepin N, Losleben M (2002) Climate change in the Colorado Rocky Mountains: free air versus surface temperature trends. Int J Climatol 22:311–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Richardson AD, Lee X, Friedland AJ (2004) Microclimatology of tree line spruce–fir forests in mountains of the northeastern United States. Agric For Meteorol 125:53–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rolland C (2003) Spatial and seasonal variations of air temperature lapse rates in Alpine regions. J Clim 16:1032–1046CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Shrestha ML (2000) Inter annual variation of summer monsoon rainfall over Nepal and its relation to Southern Oscillation Index. Meteorol Atmos Phys 75:21–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Shrestha AB, Aryal R (2010) Climate change in Nepal and its impact on Himalayan glacier. Reg Environ Change. doi: 10.1007/s10113-010-0174-9
  31. Shrestha AB, Wake CP, Dibb JE, Mayewski PA (2000) Precipitation fluctuations in the Nepal Himalaya and its vicinity and relationship with some large scale. Int J Climatol 20:317–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Stone PH, Carlson JH (1979) Atmospheric lapse rate regimes and their parameterization. J Atmos Sci 36:415–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Tang Z, Fang J (2006) Temperature variation along the northern and southern slopes of Mt. Taibai, China. Agric For Meteorol 139:200–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Tetens O (1930) Uber einige meteorologische begrie. Z Geo-physics 6:297–309Google Scholar
  35. Thyer N (1985) Looking at western Nepal’s climate. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 66(6):645–650CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ueno K, Toyotsu K, Bertolani L, Tartari G (2008) Stepwise onset of monsoon weather observed in the Nepal Himalaya. Mon Weather Rev 136:2507–2522. doi: 10.1175/2007MWR2298.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wu G, Zhang Y (1998) Tibetan Plateau forcing and timing of the monsoon onset over South Asia and South China Sea. Mon Wea Rev 126:913–927CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Yang K, Ye B, Zhou D, Wu B, Foken T, Qin J, Zhou Z (2011) Response of hydrological cycle to recent climate changes in the Tibetan Plateau. Clim Chang 109:517–534. doi: 10.1007/s10584-011-0099-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Yao T, Pu J, Lu A, Wang Y, Wusheng Y (2006) Recent glacial retreat and its impact on Hydrological processes on the Tibetan Plateau, China, and surrounding regions. Arct Antarct Alp Res 39(4):642–650CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ye D, Gao Y (1979) The meteorology of the Qinghai-Xizang (Tibet) Plateau (in Chinese). Science Press, Beijing, 278 ppGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. B. Kattel
    • 1
    • 2
  • T. Yao
    • 1
  • K. Yang
    • 1
  • L. Tian
    • 1
  • G. Yang
    • 1
  • D. Joswiak
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations