SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA ›› 2013, Vol. 33 ›› Issue (8): 999-1005.doi: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2013.08.999

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

TRMM-Data-Based Spatial and Seasonal Patterns of Precipitation in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

Wen-wen QI1,2, Bai-ping ZHANG1, Yu PANG1,2, Fang ZHAO1,2, Shuo ZHANG1,2   

  1. 1.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    2.University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2012-09-12 Revised:2013-01-08 Online:2013-08-20 Published:2013-08-20


As the highest plateau on the Earth, the Tibetan Plateau influences the climate of its adjacent regions and even the whole Asia or the whole world. However, knowledge on its precipitation pattern is very limited due to the sparsely distributed rain gauges, especially in its western part. Besides, the plateau is geomorphologically complicated, making it even harder to carry out conventional meteorological observations. Satellite data for precipitation estimation has the advantage of full spatial coverage and can be used to solve the problem of climatic data shortage. In this article, the 0.25-degree resolution Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) 3B43 product from 1998 to 2011 was analyzed to depict spatial and seasonal precipitation patterns over the plateau. But, TRMM 3B43 data often overestimate the amount of rainfall in the arid areas and underestimate rainfall in the extremely humid regions. Kriging interpolation method was chosen to improve the accuracy of TRMM data based on the difference between observational and TRMM-derived data. The results confirmed the generally recognized spatial patterns of precipitation decreasing from southeast to northwest and from south to north, the existence of rain shadow in the northern flank of the Himalaya Mountains and the cold-arid core of the Eurasia. Some new spatial patterns of precipitation were also revealed, such as the dry region in the Ali-Karakoram Mountains, a relatively humid region in the heartland of the plateau and a comparatively arid region in the central part of the Hengduan Mountains. Seasonal patterns of precipitation in the Tibetan Plateau vary greatly from southeast to northwest. The ratios of precipitation in Spring (from March to May), Autumn (from September to November) and Winter (from December to February) to annual precipitation are all 20~30% in the northwest of the plateau, while the ratio for Summer (from June to August) is 30%~40%, a little more than that in other seasons. In the southeast, precipitation occurs mainly in summer (40%~60%), some in spring and autumn (20%~30% each), and less in winter (lower than 10%).

Key words: Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, precipitation, TRMM 3B43, spatial patterns, seasonal patterns

CLC Number: 

  • P9