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Water 2015, 7(10), 5474-5486; doi:10.3390/w7105474

Using the SPEI to Assess Recent Climate Change in the Yarlung Zangbo River Basin, South Tibet

State Key Laboratory of Hydrology-Water Resources and Hydraulic Engineering, Hohai University, Nanjing 210098, China
College of Hydrology and Water Resources, Hohai University, Nanjing 210098, China
School of Public Administration, Hohai University, Nanjing 210098, China
Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Las Vegas, NV 89119, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Kevin Strychar
Received: 24 August 2015 / Revised: 19 September 2015 / Accepted: 24 September 2015 / Published: 15 October 2015
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [2177 KB, uploaded 15 October 2015]   |  


The Yarlung Zangbo River (YZR) is the largest river system in the Tibetan Plateau, and its basin is one of the centers of human economic activity in Tibet. Large uncertainties exist in several previous climate change studies in this basin because of limited climate observations. In this paper, we used a meteorological drought index (Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index, SPEI) and a newly-released gridded climate forcing dataset based on high-quality climate station data to re-evaluate climate change in the YZR Basin during the period of 1961–2014. Results showed that precipitation experienced a statistically insignificant increasing trend at a rate of 6.32 mm/10 years, and its annual mean was 512.40 mm. The basin was sensitive to climate change in terms of the air temperature that significantly increased at the rate of 0.32 °C/10 years. This warming rate was obviously larger than that in many other regions. Analysis of SPEI showed that the basin had no obvious statistical trends in the number of dry/wet episodes, but the severity of dry episode aggravated in terms of duration and magnitude. This study provides a reliable analysis of climate change in the YZR Basin, and suggests this large Tibetan river basin is sensitive to climate change. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; SPEI; dry and wet periods; Yarlung Zangbo River; South Tibet climate change; SPEI; dry and wet periods; Yarlung Zangbo River; South Tibet

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Li, B.; Zhou, W.; Zhao, Y.; Ju, Q.; Yu, Z.; Liang, Z.; Acharya, K. Using the SPEI to Assess Recent Climate Change in the Yarlung Zangbo River Basin, South Tibet. Water 2015, 7, 5474-5486.

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