Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 274–285 | Cite as

Variations in soil temperature at BJ site on the central Tibetan Plateau

  • Guoning Wan
  • Meixue YangEmail author
  • Xuejia Wang


The temporal and spatial variation in soil temperature play a significant role in energy and water cycle between land surface and atmosphere on the Tibetan Plateau. Based on the observed soil temperature data (hourly data from 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2005) obtained by GAME-Tibet, the diurnal, seasonal and interannual variations in soil temperature at BJ site (31.37° N, 91.90° E; 4509 a.s.l.) near Naqu in the central Tibetan Plateau were analyzed. Results showed that the average diurnal variation in soil temperature at 4 and 20 cm depth can be described as sinusoidal curve, which is consistent with the variation of solar radiation. However, the average diurnal variation in soil temperature under 60 cm was very weak. The average diurnal amplitude in soil temperature decreased by the exponential decay function with the increase of soil depth (R2=0.92, p<0.01). It is demonstrated that the average diurnal maximum soil temperature decreased by the exponential decay function with the increase of soil depth (R2 =0.78, p<0.01). In contrast, the average diurnal minimum soil temperature increased by the exponential grow function with increasing of soil depth (R2=0.86, p<0.01). There were a linear negative correlation between the average annual maximum Ts and soil depth (R2=0.96, p<0.01), a logarithmic function relationship between the average annual minimum soil temperature and soil depth (R2=0.92, p<0.01). The average seasonal amplitude in soil temperature followed the exponential decay function with the increase of soil depth (R2=0.98, p<0.01). The mean annual soil temperature in each layer indicated a warming trend prominently. During the study period, the mean annual soil temperature at 4, 20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 130, 160, 200 and 250 cm depth increased by 0.034, 0.041, 0.061, 0.056, 0.062, 0.050, 0.057, 0.051, 0.047 and 0.042 °C /a, respectively.


Tibetan Plateau Land-atmosphere interaction Soil temperature Climate warming 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bian D, Yang ZG, Li L et al. (2006) The Response of Lake Area Change to Climate Variations in North Tibetan Plateau during Last 30 Years. Acta Geographica Sinica 61: 510–518. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  2. Chahine MT (1992) The hydrological cycle and its influence on climate. Nature 359: 373–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cheng GD, Wu TH (2007) Responses of permafrost to climate change and their environmental significance, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Journal of Geophysical Research 112, F02S03, doi:10.1029/2006JF000631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Choi T, Hong Jinkyu, Kim J et al. (2004) Turbulent exchange of heat, water vapor, and momentum over a Tibetan prairie by eddy covariance and flux variance measurements. Journal of Geophysical Research 109, D21106, doi:10.1029/2004JD004767.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cook BI, Bonan GB, Levis S (2006) Soil Moisture Feedbacks to Precipitation in Southern Africa. Journal of Climate 19: 4198–4206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Davidson EA, Janssens IA (2006) Temperature sensitivity of soil carbon decomposition and feedbacks to climate change. Nature 440: 165–173, doi:10.1038/nature 04514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gao ZQ, Chae N, Kim J et al. (2004) Modeling of surface energy partitioning, surface temperature and soil wetness in the Tibetan prairie using the simple biosphere model 2(SiB2). Journal of Geophysical Research 109: D06102, doi:10.1029/2003JD004089.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Guo DL, Yang MX, Wang HJ (2011) Characteristics of land surface heat and water exchange under different soil freeze/thaw conditions over the central Tibetan Plateau. Hydrological Processes 25: 2531–2541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hao X (2008) A Green Fervor Sweeps the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Science 321: 633–635, doi:10.1126/science.321.5889.633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Harris C, Mühll DV, Isaksen K, et al. (2003) Warming permafrost in European mountains. Global and Planetary Change 39: 215–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Immerzee W, van Beek LPH, Bierkens MFP (2010) Climate Change Will Affect the Asian Water Towers. Science 328(5984):1382–1385 doi:10.1126/science.1183188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. IPCC (2007) Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, Pachauri, R.K and Reisinger, A. (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland. pp 8–9.Google Scholar
  13. Isaksen K, Sollid JL, Holmlund P et al. (2007) Recent warming of mountain permafrost in Svalbard and Scandinavia. Journal of Geophysical Research 112: F02S04 doi:10.1029/2006JF000522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ji GL, Zhong Q, Shen ZB (1989) Advances in observation and research of the surface heat source over the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. Plateau Meteorology 5: 127–132. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  15. Kerr RA (2007) Global Warming Is Changing the World. Science, 316:188–190, doi:10.1126/science.316.5822.188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kerr RA (2010) ’Arctic Armageddon’ Needs More Science, Less Hype. Science 329: 620–621, doi:10.1126/science.329.5992.620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Li DL, Guo H, Li YQ et al. (2005) Prediction of 0 cm Average Ground Surface Temperature Changes along Qinghai-Xizang Railway. Plateau Meteorology 24: 685–693. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  18. Ma YM, Menenti M, Feddes R et al. (2008) Analysis of the land surface heterogeneity and its impact on atmospheric variables and the aerodynamic and thermodynamic roughness lengths. Journal of Geophysical Research 113, D08113, doi:10.1029/2007JD009124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ma YM, Su ZB, Koike T et al. (2003) On measuring and remote sensing surface energy partitioning over the Tibetan Plateaufrom GAME/Tibet to CAMP/Tibet. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth 28: 63–74.Google Scholar
  20. Ma YM, Yao TD, Ishikawa H et al. (2007) 34 Study of land surface heat fluxes and water cycle over the Tibetan plateau. Developments in Earth Surface Processes 10: 313–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ma YM, Zhong L, Su ZB et al. (2006) Determination of regional distributions and seasonal variations of land surface heat fluxes from Landsat-7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper data over the central Tibetan Plateau area. Journal of Geophysical Research 111, D10305 doi:10.1029/2005JD006742.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Nan ZT, Li SX, Cheng GD (2005) Prediction of permafrost distribution on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in the next 50 and 100 years. Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences 48: 797–804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Oberman NG (2008) Contemporary permafrost degradation of the European north of Russia. In Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Permafrost. Edited by Kane DL and Hinkel KM. Fairbanks. Institute of Northern Engineering, University of Alaska Fairbanks, June 29–July 3, Fairbanks, Alaska, Vol. 2. pp 1305–1310.Google Scholar
  24. Osterkamp TE (2007) Characteristics of the recent warming of permafrost in Alaska. Journal of Geophysical Research 112: F02S02 doi:10.1029/2006JF000578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Overduin PP, Kane DL, van Loon WKP (2006) Measuring thermal conductivity in freezing and thawing soil using the soil temperature response to heating. Cold Regions Science and Technology 45: 8–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Qin DH (2002) Assessment of Environmental Change in West China. Beijing: China Science Press. pp 13–57. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  27. Romanovsky VE, Drozdov DS, Oberman NG et al. (2010) The State of Permafrost in Russia. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes 21: 136–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Seneviratne SI, Corti T, Davin EL et al. (2010) Investigating soil moisture-climate interactions in a changing climate: A review. Earth-Science Reviews 99: 125–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Shukla J, Mintz Y (1982) The influence of land-surface evapotranspiration on the earth’s climate. Science 215: 1498–1501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Smith SL, Romanovsky VE, Lewkowicz AG et al. (2010) The state of permarfrost in North America: A contribution to the international polar year. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes 21: 117–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Subke JA, Reichstein M, Tenhunen JD (2003) Explaining temporal variation in soil CO2 efflux in a mature spruce forest in Southern Germany. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 35: 1467–1483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Wei ZG, Huang RH, Dong WJ (2003) Interannual and Interdecadal Variations of Air Temperature and Precipitation over the Tibetan Plateau. Chinese Journal of Atmospheric Sciences 27: 157–170. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  33. Wen J, Su ZB, Ma YM (2003) Determination of land surface temperature and soil moisture from Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission/Microwave Imager remote sensing data. Journal of Geophysical Research 108(D2), 4038, doi:10.1029/2002JD002176, 2003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. William PJ, Smith MW (1989) The Frozen Earth: Fundamentals of Geocryology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p 306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wu JC, Sheng Y, Wu QB et al. (2010) Processes and modes of permafrost degradation on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences 53: 150–158, doi:10.1007/s11430-009-0198-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wu QB, Zhang TJ (2008) Recent permafrost warming on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Journal of Geophysical Research 113: D13108 doi:10.1029/2007JD009539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wu QB, Zhang TJ (2010) Changes in active layer thickness over the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau from 1995 to 2007. Journal of Geophysical Research 115: D09107, doi:10.1029/2009JD012974.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Yang MX, Nelson FE, Shiklomanov NI et al. (2010) Permafrost degradation and its environmental effects on the Tibetan Plateau: A review of recent research. Earth-Science Reviews 103:31–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Yang MX, Yao TD, Gou XH et al. (2003) The soil moisture distribution, thawing-freezing processes and their effects on the seasonal transition on the Qinghai-Xizang (Tibetan) Plateau. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 21: 457–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Yang MX, Yao TD, Gou XH et al. (2006) Effect of heavy snowfall on ground temperature, northern Tibetan Plateau. Annals of Glaciology 43: 317–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Yang MX, Yao TD, Gou XH et al. (2007) Diurnal freeze/thaw cycles of the ground surface on the Tibetan Plateau. Chinese Science Bulletin 52: 136–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Yang MX, Yao TD, Nelson FE et al. (2008) Snow cover and depth of freeze-thaw on the Tibetan Plateau: A case study from 1997–1998. Physical Geography 29: 208–221, doi:10.2747/0272-3646.29.3.208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Yasunari T, Kitoh A, Tokioka T (1991) Local and remote responses to excessive snow mass over Eurasia appearing in the northern spring and summer climate-A study with the MRI-GCM. Journal of the Meteorological Society of Japan 69: 473–487.Google Scholar
  44. Ye DZ, Gao YX (1979) The Meteorology of the Qinghai-Xizang (Tibet) Plateau. Beijing: Science Press. p 278. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  45. Yeh TC, Wetherald RT, Manabe S (1984) The effect of soil moisture on the short-term climate and hydrology change-A numerical experiment. Monthly Weather Review 112: 474–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Zhang TJ (2005) Influence of the seasonal snow cover on the ground thermal regime: An overview. Reviews of Geophysics 43: RG4002 doi:10.1029/2004RG000157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zhang TJ, Armstrong RL (2001) Soil freeze/thaw cycles over snow-free land detected by passive microwave remote sensing. Geophysical Research Letters 28(5): 763–766, doi:10.1029/2000GL011952.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Zhang WG, Li SX, Wu TH et al. (2007) Changes and spatial patterns of the differences between ground and air temperature over the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. Journal of Geographical Sciences 1: 20–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zhao L, Ping CL, Yang DQ et al. (2004) Changes of climate and seasonally frozen ground over the past 30 years in Qinghai-Xizang (Tibetan) Plateau, China. Global and Planetary Change 43: 19–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research InstituteChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina
  2. 2.Graduate University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations