Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 15, Issue 7, pp 1510–1519 | Cite as

Estimation of mass elevation effect and its annual variation based on MODIS and NECP data in the Tibetan Plateau

  • Fang Han
  • Bai-ping ZhangEmail author
  • Fang Zhao
  • Bing Guo
  • Tian Liang


The lofty and extensive Tibetan Plateau has significant mass elevation effect (MEE). In recent years, a great effort has been made to quantify MEE, with the recognition of intra-mountain basal elevation (MBE) as the main determinant of MEE. In this study, we improved the method of estimating MEE with MODIS and NECP data, by refining temperature laps rate, and dividing MBE plots, and then analyzed the spatio-temporal variation of MEE in the Plateau. The main conclusions include: 1) the highest average annual MEE of the plateau is as high as 11.5488°C in the southwest of the plateau, where exists a high-MEE core and MEE takes on a trend of decreasing from the core to the surrounding areas; 2) in the interior of the plateau, the maximum monthly MEE is 14.1108°C in the highest MBE plot (4934 m) in August; while the minimum monthly MEE appeared primarily in January and February; 3) in the peripheral areas of the plateau, annual mean MEE is relatively low, mostly between 3.0068°C–5.1972°C, where monthly MEE is high in January and December and low in June and July, completely different from the MEE time-series variation in the internal parts of the plateau.


Mass elevation effect Annual temperature change Temperature laps rate Mountain basal elevation In-out temperature difference Tibetan Plateau 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



The research is supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41401111 and 41601091).


  1. Barry RG (1992) Mountain Weather and Climate. London and New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barry RG (2008) Mountain Weather and Climate. Boulder, USA: University of Colorado.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Fang JY, Ohsawa M, Kira T (1996) Vertical vegetation zones along 30° N latitude in humid East Asia. Plant Ecology 126(2): 135–149.(In Chinese) CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fang JY, Guo QH, Liu GH (1999) Distribution patterns of Chinese Beech (Fagus L.) species in relation to topography. Acta Botanica Sinica 41(7): 766–774.Google Scholar
  5. Flenley J (2007) Ultraviolet insolation and the tropical rainforest: Altitudinal variations, Quaternary and recent change, extinctions, and biodiversity. In: Bush M B, Flenley JR, Tropical Rainforest Responses to Climatic Change. Chichester, UK: Praxis. pp 219–235.Google Scholar
  6. Flohn H (1953) High mountains and general circulation. II. Mountains as heat sources, archive for meteorology, Geophysics and Bioclimatology 5A: 265–279. (in German)Google Scholar
  7. Garreaud R (1999) A multiscale analysis of the summer time precipitation over the central Andes. Monthly Weather Review 127: 901–921.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Grubb PJ (1971) Interpretation of Massenerhebung Effect on Tropical Mountains. Nature 229(5279): 44–59. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Han F, Zhang BP, Tan J, et al. (2010) The effect of mountain base elevation on the altitude of timberline in the southeastern Eurasia: A study on the quantification of mass elevation effect. Acta Geographica Sinica 65(7): 781–788. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  10. Han F, Zhang BP, Yao YH, et al. (2011) Mass elevation effect and its contribution to the altitude of snowline in the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding areas. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 43(2): 207–212. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Han F, Yao YH, Dai SB, et al. (2012) Mass elevation effect and its forcing on timberline altitude. Journal of Geographical Sciences 22(4): 609–616. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Han F, Zhang BP, Tan J, et al. (2014) The effect of mountain basal elevations in Tibetan Plateau and its surrounding areas. Geographical Research 33(1): 23–30. (In Chinese) Google Scholar
  13. Han F, Zhang BP, Li XC, et al. (2016) MODIS-based estimation of mass elevation effect in the Tibetan Plateau and its ecological effect. Mountain Research 34(6): 788–798. (In Chinese) Google Scholar
  14. Holtmeier FK (2003) Mountain timberlines: ecology, patchiness and dynamics. Advances in Global Change Research 14: 369. Google Scholar
  15. Leuschner C (1996) Timberline and alpine vegetation on the tropical and warm-temperate oceanic islands of the world: Elevation, structure and floristics. Vegetatio 123: 193–206. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Quervain AD (1904) The uplifting of the atmospheric Isotherms of the Swiss Alps and its relationship with altitudinal limits. Gerland. Contrib. Geophys 6: 481–533. (in German).Google Scholar
  17. SchickhoffU (2005) The upper timberline in the Himalayas, Hindu Kush and Karakorum: a review of geographical and ecological aspects. In: Broll G and Keplin B (ed.), Mountain Ecosystems Studies in Treeline Ecology. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. pp 275–354.Google Scholar
  18. Schröter C (1908) The plant life of the Alps: Characterization of the high-mountain flora. Publisher of Albert Raustein, Publisher of Albert Raustein, Zurich, Switzerland. (in German)Google Scholar
  19. Vuille MDR, Hardy C, Braun F, et al. (1998) Atmospheric circulation anomalies associated with 1996/1997 summer precipitation events on Sajama ice cap, Bolivia. Journal of Geophysical Research 103: 11191–11204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Wang J, Zhang BP, He WH, Yao YH, Zhang WJ, Zhao C (2017) A quantitative study on the mass elevation effect of the Rocky Mountains and its significance for treeline distribution. Physical Geography 38(3): 231–247. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Yao YH, Zhang BP, Han F (2011) Modis-based air temperature estimation in the Hengduan Mountains and its spatiotemporal analysis. Acta Geograhica Sinica 66(7): 917–927. (In Chinese) Google Scholar
  22. Yao YH, Zhang BP (2012) MODIS-based air temperature estimation in the southeastern Tibetan Plateau and neighboring areas. Journal of Geographical Sciences 22(1): 152–166. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Yao YH, Zhang BP (2013a) MODIS-based estimation of air temperature and heating-up effect of the Tibetan Plateau. Acta Geographica Sinica 68(1): 95–107. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  24. Yao YH, Zhang BP (2013b) MODIS-based estimation of air temperature of the Tibetan Plateau. Journal of Geographical Sciences 23(4):627–640. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Yao YH, Zhang BP (2014) The mass elevation effect of the Tibetan Plateau and its implications for alpine treelines. International Journal of Climatology. Google Scholar
  26. Yao YH, Xu M, Zhang BP (2015a) Implication of the heating effect of the Tibetan Plateau for Mountain altitudinal belts. Acta Geographica Sinica 70 (3): 407–419. (In Chinese) Google Scholar
  27. Yao YH, Zhang BP (2015b) The spatial pattern of monthly air temperature of the Tibetan Plateau and its implications for the geo-ecology pattern of the Plateau. Geographical Research 34(11): 2084–2094. Google Scholar
  28. Zhao F, Zhang BP, Pang Y, Yao YH (2014) A study of the contribution of mass elevation effect to the altitudinal distribution of timberline in the northern hemisphere. Journal of Geographical Sciences 24(2): 226–236. (In Chinese) CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Zhao F, Zhang BP, Zhang S, et al. (2015) Contribution of mass elevation effect to the altitudinal distribution of global treelines. Journal of Mountain Sciences 12(2): 289–297. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Zhang BP, Tan J, Yao YH (2009) Digital integration and patterns of mountain altitudinal belts. China Environmental Science Press, Beijing. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  31. Zhang BP, Yao YH, et al. (2015) Mass Elevation Effect Research. Beijing: China Environment (Scientific) Press. pp25-26, 182–183. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  32. Zhang BP, Yao YH (2016) Implications of mass elevation effect for the altitudinal patterns of global ecology. Journal of Geographical Sciences 26(7): 871–877. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Zhang Q, Qian YF (1999) Monthly mean surface albedo estimated from NCEP/NCAR reanalysis radiation data. Acta Geographica Sinica 54(4): 309–317. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  34. Zhang S, Yao YH, Pang Y, et al. (2012) Mountain basal elevation extraction in the Taiwan Island. Journal of Geo Information Science 14(5): 562–568. (In Chinese)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zhang S, Zhang BP, Yao YH, et al. (2013) The effect of Mass Elevation Effect on the distribution of evergreen broad-leaved forests of Taiwan. Journal of Mountain Science 31(5): 534–541. (In Chinese) Google Scholar
  36. Zheng D (2000) Three dimensional differentiation of natural zonation. In: Zheng D et al. (ed.): Mountain Geoecology and Sustainable Development of the Tibetan Plateau. Springer.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Civil and Architectural EngineeringShandong University of TechnologyZiboChina
  2. 2.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchState Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information SystemBeijingChina
  3. 3.College of Environment and PlanningHenan UniversityKaifengChina

Personalised recommendations