30 May 2022
30 May 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Quantify Oceanic Moisture Contribution to the Tibetan Plateau

Ying Li1,2, Chenghao Wang3, Ru Haung4, Denghua Yan5, Hui Peng1,2, and Shangbin Xiao1,2 Ying Li et al.
  • 1Engineering Research Center of Eco-environment in Three Gorges Reservoir Region, Yichang 443002, China
  • 2College of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering, China Three Gorges University, Yichang, 443002, China
  • 3Department of Earth System Science, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
  • 4Ministry of Emergency Management of China, National Institute of Natural Hazards, Beijing 100085, China
  • 5State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, Water Resources Department, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR), Beijing, 100038, China

Abstract. Evaporation from global oceans is an important moisture source of glaciers and headwaters of major Asia rivers in the Tibetan Plateau (TP). Although recent accelerated global hydrological cycle, altered sea-land thermal contrast, and amplified warming rate over the TP are known to have profound effects on the regional water balance, the contribution of oceanic evaporation, in particular its spatial variability over the vast TP, remains unclear. The lack of such knowledge hinders an accurate quantification of regional water budgets and the reasonable interpretation of water isotope records from observations and paleo archives. Based on historical data and moisture tracking, this study systematically quantifies the absolute and relative contributions of oceanic moisture to the long-term TP precipitation. Results show that seasonal absolute and relative oceanic contributions are generally out of phase, revealing previously overlooked oceanic moisture contributions to the TP in winter as dominated by the westerlies and overestimated moisture contribution from the Indian Ocean in summer. Especially, the relative contribution of moisture from Indian Ocean is only ~30 % in the southern TP and further decreases to below 10 % in the northern TP. Absolute oceanic contributions explain the dipole pattern of long-term precipitation trends across the southern slope of the Himalayas and the central-northern TP. In comparison, the seasonality of relative oceanic contribution is associated with that of precipitation isotopes across the TP.

Ying Li et al.

Status: open (until 25 Jul 2022)

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Ying Li et al.


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Short summary
Spatial quantification of the contribution of oceanic moisture to the Tibetan plateau (TP) contributes to reliable assessments of regional water resources and the interpretation of enormous paleo archives in the region. Our work systematically quantified the oceanic moisture contribution to TP precipitation, and indicated that the oceanic moisture contribution in winter has been previously overlooked, while the Indian Ocean moisture contribution in summer has been previously overestimated.