Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 763–773 | Cite as

A topographical model for precipitation pattern in the Tibetan Plateau

  • Wen-wen Qi
  • Bai-ping ZhangEmail author
  • Yong-hui YaoEmail author
  • Fang Zhao
  • Shuo Zhang
  • Wen-hui He


As the highest and most extensive plateau on earth, the Tibetan Plateau has strong thermo-dynamic effect, which not only affects regional climate around the plateau but also temperature and precipitation patterns of itself. However, due to scattered meteorological stations, its spatial precipitation pattern and, especially, the mechanism behind are poorly understood. The availability of spatially consistent satellite-derived precipitation data makes it possible to get accurate precipitation pattern in the plateau, which could help quantitatively explore the effect and mechanism of mass elevation effect on precipitation pattern. This paper made full use of TMPA 3B43 V7 monthly precipitation data to track the trajectory of precipitation and identified four routes (east, southeast, south, west directions) along which moisture-laden air masses move into the plateau. We made the assumption that precipitation pattern is the result interplay of these four moisture-laden air masses transportation routes against the distances from moisture sources and the topographic barriers along the routes. To do so, we developed a multivariate linear regression model with the spatial distribution of annual mean precipitation as the dependent variable and the topographical barriers to these four moisture sources as independent variables. The result shows that our model could explain about 70% of spatial variation of mean annual precipitation pattern in the plateau; the regression analysis also shows that the southeast moisture source (the Bay of Bengal) contributes the most (32.56%) to the rainfall pattern of the plateau; the east and the south sources have nearly the same contribution, 23.59% and 23.48%, respectively; while the west source contributes the least, only 20.37%. The findings of this study can greatly improve our understanding of mass elevation effect on spatial precipitation pattern.


Tibetan Plateau Precipitation pattern Topography Moisture sources 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Resource and Environment Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and ApplicationNanjingChina

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