Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 1154–1168 | Cite as

Evaluation of ERA-interim monthly temperature data over the Tibetan Plateau

  • Lu GaoEmail author
  • Lu Hao
  • Xing-wei Chen


In this study, surface air temperature from 75 meteorological stations above 3000 m on the Tibetan Plateau are applied for evaluation of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) third-generation reanalysis product ERA-Interim in the period of 1979–2010. High correlations ranging from 0.973 to 0.999 indicate that ERA-Interim could capture the annual cycle very well. However, an average root-mean-square error (rmse) of 3.7°C for all stations reveals that ERA-Interim could not be applied directly for the individual sites. The biases can be mainly attributed to the altitude differences between ERA-Interim grid points and stations. An elevation correction method based on monthly lapse rates is limited to reduce the bias for all stations. Generally, ERA-Interim captured the Plateau-Wide annual and seasonal climatologies very well. The spatial variance is highly related to the topographic features of the TP. The temperature increases significantly (10°C–15°C) from the western to the eastern Tibetan Plateau for all seasons, in particular during winter and summer. A significant warming trend (0.49°C/decade) is found over the entire Tibetan Plateau using station time series from 1979–2010. ERA-Interim captures the annual warming trend with an increase rate of 0.33°C /decade very well. The observation data and ERA-Interim data both showed the largest warming trends in winter with values of 0.67°C/decade and 0.41°C/decade, respectively. We conclude that in general ERA-Interim captures the temperature trends very well and ERA-Interim is reliable for climate change investigation over the Tibetan Plateau under the premise of cautious interpretation.


Reanalysis Air temperature Warming trend Tibetan Plateau 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Geographical SciencesFujian Normal UniversityFuzhouChina
  2. 2.Fujian Provincial Engineering Research Center for Monitoring and Assessing Terrestrial DisastersFuzhouChina
  3. 3.Research Center for National Geographical Condition Monitoring and Emergency Support in the Economic Zone on the West Side of the Taiwan StraitFuzhouChina
  4. 4.College of Applied MeteorologyNanjing University of Information Science & TechnologyNanjingChina

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