Climate Dynamics

, Volume 53, Issue 11, pp 6891–6907 | Cite as

Identifying and contrasting the sources of the water vapor reaching the subregions of the Tibetan Plateau during the wet season

  • Bin Chen
  • Wei ZhangEmail author
  • Shuai Yang
  • XiangDe Xu


A Lagrangian approach is utilized to identify and compare the sources of water vapor transported to the four subregions of Tibetan Plateau (TP) during the wet season (May–August) of 1980–2016. We focus on the time scale and subseasonal variability of water vapor transport and the relationship between moisture supply and precipitation at the interannual scale. This study finds that: (1) The moisture sources for the four subregions differ significantly in both spatial pattern and magnitude and depend heavily on the combined effects of the summer monsoons, local recycling and the westerlies. (2) The spatial evolution of the moisture sources based on the backward trajectory analysis reveals that, although approximately 80% of the moisture is delivered to the target regions within 1–4 days, the individual subregions feature different transport pathways and associated time scales. (3) The subseasonal migration of the Indian summer monsoon regulates the importance of different moisture sources for the southern TP but not for the northern TP. Additionally, the subseasonal moisture source evolution differs greatly between the southeastern TP and the southwestern TP. (4) The interannual variability of precipitation over the whole TP during summer is negatively correlated with the variation in the moisture transported by the westerlies and is positively related to the moisture conveyed by the Indian summer monsoon for the northern TP and by adjacent moisture transport for the southern TP.



We thank the two anonymous reviewers for insightful comments. This research is jointly supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 91637102 and 41475036) and the National Key Research and Development Program on Monitoring, Early Warning and Prevention of Major Natural Disaster (2018YFC1506001). The observed precipitation compiled by the China Meteorological Administration is available at The ERA-Interim dataset can be obtained from

Supplementary material

382_2019_4963_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1061 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Severe WeatherChinese Academy of Meteorological SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering, The University of IowaIowa CityUSA
  3. 3.Laboratory of Cloud-Precipitation Physics and Severe Storms (LACS), Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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