Regionalization of seasonal precipitation over the Tibetan plateau and associated large-scale atmospheric systems

Hui Wen Lai, Hans W. Chen, Julia Kukulies, Tinghai Ou, Deliang Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Precipitation over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) has major societal impacts in South and East Asia, but its spatiotemporal variations are not well understood, mainly because of the sparsely distributed in situ observation sites. With the help of the Global Precipitation Measurement satellite product IMERG and the ERA5 dataset, distinct precipitation seasonality features over the TP were objectively classified using a self-organizing map algorithm fed with 10-day averaged precipitation from 2000 to 2019. The classification reveals three main precipitation regimes with distinct seasonality of precipitation: the winter peak, centered at the western plateau; the early summer peak, found on the eastern plateau; and the late summer peak, mainly located on the southwestern plateau. On a year-to-year basis, the winter peak regime is relatively robust, whereas the early summer and late summer peak regimes tend to shift mainly between the central and northern TP but are robust in the eastern and southwestern TP. A composite analysis shows that the winter peak regime experiences larger amounts of precipitation in winter and early spring when the westerly jet is anomalously strong to the north of the TP. Precipitation variations in the late summer peak regime are associated with intensity changes in the South Asian high and Indian summer monsoon. The precipitation in the early summer peak regime is correlated with the Indian summer monsoon together with anticyclonic circulation over the western North Pacific. The results provide a basic understanding of precipitation seasonality variations over the TP and associated large-scale conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2635-2651
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Climate Research


  • Asia
  • Classification
  • Large-scale motions
  • Monsoons
  • Precipitation
  • Satellite observations


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