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.
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