Reduction in the east–west contrast in water budget over the Tibetan Plateau under a future climate

Akio Kitoh, Osamu Arakawa
Received 2016/08/30, Accepted 2016/11/09, Published 2016/12/07

Akio Kitoh1), Osamu Arakawa1)

1) Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba

As the Tibetan Plateau (TP) is an important Asian water resource, future changes in precipitation over the TP are an essential part of climate change assessments for the TP and surrounding regions. Here we investigate the water budget over the TP with a global 20-km grid atmospheric general circulation model. Future simulations are performed using CMIP5 multi–model ensemble mean sea surface temperature changes at the end of the 21st century under the RCP8.5 scenario. In the present climate, an east–west contrast in the water budget is noted: over the eastern TP, both moisture flux convergence and local evaporation contribute to summertime precipitation with comparable magnitude; on the other hand, over the western TP, contribution from local evaporation dominates. Under the future climate, precipitation increases over the TP. Contribution from increasing evaporation dominates that from increasing moisture flux convergence into the TP. A prominent east–west contrast is also found in future surface water budget changes. Over the western TP, surface temperature increases are higher, an increasing rate of precipitation is greater, soil moisture becomes wetter, and runoff increases more than over the eastern TP. This suggests that the east–west contrast in surface climate over the TP could become smaller in the future.

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Copyright (c) 2016 Japan Society of Hydrology and Water Resources

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