U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Snowpack Pollution on the Tibetan Plateau Has Influence on the Asian Monsoon
Published: March 07, 2011
Posted: March 17, 2011

The Tibetan Plateau has long been identified as critical in regulating the Asian monsoon climate and hydrological cycle. BER-funded scientists conducted a series of numerical experiments with a global climate model designed to simulate the radiative effect of black carbon and dust in snow. The results show a large, black carbon content in snow, especially over the southern slope of the Tibetan Plateau, prompting snow melt and runoff increases during late winter and early spring but decreases during late spring and early summer. Changes in snow cover also cause the Tibetan Plateau to be warmer at the onset of the summer monsoon season, forcing a stronger thermal contrast between the land and the ocean, which in turn drives a stronger monsoon in Asia. This research indicates that pollution on snow has the potential of drastically affecting regional climate.

Reference: Qian, Y., M. G. Flanner, L. R. Leung, and W. Wang. 2011. “Sensitivity Studies on the Impacts of Tibetan Plateau Snowpack Pollution on the Asian Hydrological Cycle and Monsoon Climate,” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, available online. Press release can be found at http://www.pnnl.gov/news/release.aspx?id=851.

Contact: Renu Joseph, SC-23.1, (301) 903-9237, Dorothy Koch, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0105
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Aug 24, 2019
New Approach for Studying How Microbes Influence Their Environment
A diverse group of scientists suggests a common framework and targeting of known microbial processes [more...]

Aug 08, 2019
Nutrient-Hungry Peatland Microbes Reduce Carbon Loss Under Warmer Conditions
Enzyme production in peatlands reduces carbon lost to respiration under future high temperatures. [more...]

Aug 05, 2019
Amazon Forest Response to CO2 Fertilization Dependent on Plant Phosphorus Acquisition
AmazonFACE Model Intercomparison. The Science Plant growth is dependent on the availabi [more...]

Jul 29, 2019
A Slippery Slope: Soil Carbon Destabilization
Carbon gain or loss depends on the balance between competing biological, chemical, and physical reac [more...]

Jul 15, 2019
Field Evaluation of Gas Analyzers for Measuring Ecosystem Fluxes
How gas analyzer type and correction method impact measured fluxes. The Science A side- [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)