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CR 67:1-14 (2016)  -  DOI:

Climate variability and change on the Mongolian Plateau: historical variation and future predictions

Liguang Jiang1,2, Zhijun Yao1,*, He Qing Huang1

1Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 11A Datun Road, Beijing 100101, China
2Present address: Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, 2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: In this study, variations in temperature and precipitation over the Mongolian Plateau are analyzed using Climatic Research Unit monthly observations from 1911 to 2010. In addition, the climatology regime of future climate projections is presented using 16 state-of-the-art global climate models participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 under 2 different representative concentration pathway (RCP) emissions scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). In the process, changes in the climate normals of 1961-1990 and 2061-2090 are compared. The following results were obtained: (1) Over the past century, the average annual amount of precipitation was 254 ± 5 mm, 67.8% of which appeared in summer (June to August), and no clear trends were found. Temperature exhibited a clear upward trend at a rate of 0.18°C decade-1 (p < 0.001), and the increases in minimum temperature, mean temperature and maximum temperature were 1.90, 1.78 and 1.59°C, respectively, showing an asymmetric warming process. The winter minimum temperature showed the largest warming trend, at a rate of 0.36°C decade-1 (p < 0.001). Spatial heterogeneity was apparent for both precipitation and temperature, although these variables exhibited different patterns. (2) During the coming century, increases in precipitation and temperature can be seen under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5, with pronounced larger amplitude changes under RCP8.5. By 2100, the increases in precipitation are 13.3 and 16.1% for RCP4.5 and RCP8.5, respectively, and the increases in mean temperature are 3.5 and 7.1°C. The spatial patterns are more complicated. These results suggest that the Mongolian Plateau will experience significant climate warming and accompanying increased precipitation. Adaptation strategies are needed to improve the capability to respond and adapt to a warmer environment in the coming century.

KEY WORDS: Climate change · CRU · CMIP5 · Mongolian Plateau · Predictions · Temperature · Precipitation

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Cite this article as: Jiang L, Yao Z, Huang HQ (2016) Climate variability and change on the Mongolian Plateau: historical variation and future predictions. Clim Res 67:1-14.

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