HOME
The Info List - Tibetan Plateau


--- Advertisement ---



The Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
(Tibetan: བོད་ས་མཐོ།, Wylie: bod sa mtho), also known in China
China
as the Qinghai– Tibet
Tibet
Plateau[1] or the Qing–Zang Plateau[2] (Chinese: 青藏高原; pinyin: Qīng–Zàng Gāoyuán) or Himalayan Plateau, is a vast elevated plateau in Central Asia[3][4][5][6] and East Asia,[7][8][9][10] covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region
Tibet Autonomous Region
and Qinghai
Qinghai
in western China, as well as part of Ladakh
Ladakh
in Jammu and Kashmir, India. It stretches approximately 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) north to south and 2,500 kilometres (1,600 mi) east to west. With an average elevation exceeding 4,500 metres (14,800 ft), the Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
is sometimes called "the Roof of the World" because it stands over 3 miles (4.8 km) above sea level and is surrounded by imposing mountain ranges that harbor the world's two highest summits, Mount Everest
Mount Everest
and K2, and is the world's highest and largest plateau, with an area of 2,500,000 square kilometres (970,000 sq mi) (about five times the size of Metropolitan France).[11] Sometimes termed the Third Pole, the Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
contains the headwaters of the drainage basins of most of the streams in surrounding regions. Its tens of thousands of glaciers and other geographical and ecological features serve as a "water tower" storing water and maintaining flow. The impact of global warming on the Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
is of intense scientific interest.[12][13][14][15]

Contents

1 Description 2 Geology
Geology
and geological history 3 Environment 4 Human history 5 Impact on other regions

5.1 Role in monsoons

6 Glaciology: the Ice Age and at present

6.1 Effect of climate change

7 See also 8 References

8.1 Citations 8.2 Sources

9 External links

Description[edit] The Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
is surrounded by massive mountain ranges.[16] The plateau is bordered to the south by the inner Himalayan range, to the north by the Kunlun Mountains, which separate it from the Tarim Basin, and to the northeast by the Qilian Mountains, which separate the plateau from the Hexi Corridor
Hexi Corridor
and Gobi Desert. To the east and southeast the plateau gives way to the forested gorge and ridge geography of the mountainous headwaters of the Salween, Mekong, and Yangtze
Yangtze
rivers in northwest Yunnan
Yunnan
and western Sichuan
Sichuan
(the Hengduan Mountains). In the west the curve of the rugged Karakoram
Karakoram
range of northern Kashmir
Kashmir
embraces the plateau. The Indus River
Indus River
originates in the western Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
in the vicinity of Lake Manasarovar.

Tibetan Buddhist stupa and houses outside the town of Ngawa, on the Tibetan Plateau.

The Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
is bounded in the north by a broad escarpment where the altitude drops from around 5,000 metres (16,000 ft) to 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) over a horizontal distance of less than 150 kilometres (93 mi). Along the escarpment is a range of mountains. In the west the Kunlun Mountains
Kunlun Mountains
separate the plateau from the Tarim Basin. About halfway across the Tarim the bounding range becomes the Altyn-Tagh
Altyn-Tagh
and the Kunluns, by convention, continue somewhat to the south. In the 'V' formed by this split is the western part of the Qaidam Basin. The Altyn-Tagh
Altyn-Tagh
ends near the Dangjin pass on the Dunhuang- Golmud
Golmud
road. To the west are short ranges called the Danghe, Yema, Shule, and Tulai Nanshans. The easternmost range is the Qilian Mountains. The line of mountains continues east of the plateau as the Qinling, which separates the Ordos Plateau
Plateau
from Sichuan. North of the mountains runs the Gansu or Hexi Corridor
Hexi Corridor
which was the main silk-road route from China
China
proper to the West. The plateau is a high-altitude arid steppe interspersed with mountain ranges and large brackish lakes. Annual precipitation ranges from 100 to 300 millimetres (3.9 to 11.8 in) and falls mainly as hail. The southern and eastern edges of the steppe have grasslands which can sustainably support populations of nomadic herdsmen, although frost occurs for six months of the year. Permafrost
Permafrost
occurs over extensive parts of the plateau. Proceeding to the north and northwest, the plateau becomes progressively higher, colder and drier, until reaching the remote Changtang
Changtang
region in the northwestern part of the plateau. Here the average altitude exceeds 5,000 metres (16,000 ft) and winter temperatures can drop to −40 °C (−40 °F). As a result of this extremely inhospitable environment, the Changthang region (together with the adjoining Kekexili region) is the least populous region in Asia, and the third least populous area in the world after Antarctica
Antarctica
and northern Greenland.

NASA satellite image of the south-eastern area of Tibetan Plateau. Brahmaputra River
Brahmaputra River
is in the lower right.

Geology
Geology
and geological history[edit]

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2011)

Main article: Geology
Geology
of the Himalaya

Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake
is one of the three largest sacred lakes in Tibet.

The geological history of the Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
is closely related to that of the Himalayas. The Himalayas
Himalayas
are among the youngest mountain ranges on the planet and consist mostly of uplifted sedimentary and metamorphic rock. Their formation is a result of a continental collision or orogeny along the convergent boundary between the Indo-Australian Plate
Indo-Australian Plate
and the Eurasian Plate. The collision began in the Upper Cretaceous
Cretaceous
period about 70 million years ago, when the north-moving Indo-Australian Plate, moving at about 15 cm (6 in) per year, collided with the Eurasian Plate. About 50 million years ago, this fast moving Indo-Australian plate had completely closed the Tethys Ocean, the existence of which has been determined by sedimentary rocks settled on the ocean floor, and the volcanoes that fringed its edges. Since these sediments were light, they crumpled into mountain ranges rather than sinking to the floor. The Indo-Australian plate continues to be driven horizontally below the Tibetan Plateau, which forces the plateau to move upwards; the plateau is still rising at a rate of approximately 5 mm (0.2 in) per year. Much of the Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
is of relatively low relief. The cause of this is debated among geologists. Some argue that the Tibetan Plateau is an uplifted peneplain formed at low altitude, while others argue that the low relief stems from erosion and infill of topographic depressions that occurred at already high elevations.[17] Environment[edit] The Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
supports a variety of ecosystems, most of them classified as montane grasslands. While parts of the plateau feature an alpine tundra-like environment, other areas feature monsoon-influenced shrublands and forests. Species diversity is generally reduced on the plateau due to the elevation of low precipitation. The Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
hosts species of gray wolf, snow leopard, wild yak, wild donkey, cranes, vultures, hawks, geese, snakes, and water buffalo. One notable animal is the high-altitude jumping spider, that can live at elevations of over 6,500 metres (21,300 ft).[18] Ecoregions found on the Tibetan Plateau, as defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature, are as follows:

The Pamir alpine desert and tundra covers the western end of the Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
where it transitions to the Pamir Mountains The North Tibetan Plateau- Kunlun Mountains
Kunlun Mountains
alpine desert covers the northwestern limits of the Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
along the Kunlun Mountains The Karakoram-West Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
alpine steppe covers the westernmost parts of the Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
and Ladakh The Northwestern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows on the edges mountains bordering the extreme west of the Tibetan Plateau The Central Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
alpine steppe covers most of the central portions of the Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
and the eastern Changtang The Western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows
Western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows
covers the southwestern plateau in the Garuda Valley region The Qaidam Basin
Qaidam Basin
semi-desert located in the Qaidam Basin
Qaidam Basin
on the northern Tibetan Plateau The Qilian Mountains
Qilian Mountains
subalpine meadows covering the Qilian Mountains in the northernmost portions of the plateau The Qilian Mountains
Qilian Mountains
conifer forests covering parts of the mountain ranges in the northeastern Tibetan Plateau The Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
alpine shrub and meadows covering a swath of the central and northeastern Tibetan Plateau The Yarlung Tsangpo arid steppe in the Yarlung Tsangpo River
Yarlung Tsangpo River
Valley, where most of the permanent human population on the Tibetan Plateau lives The Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows
Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows
cover the southern Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
on the north side of the Himalayas The Southeast Tibet shrub and meadows
Southeast Tibet shrub and meadows
cover the southeastern and eastern parts of the plateau and are generally rainier than the other high-altitude Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
regions The Northeastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests
Northeastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests
reach up mountain valleys in the southern plateau and contain some of the highest altitude forests in the world The Nujiang Langcang Gorge alpine conifer and mixed forests
Nujiang Langcang Gorge alpine conifer and mixed forests
cover the mountain valleys that reach 500 km (310 mi) into the southeastern Tibetan Plateau The Hengduan Mountains
Hengduan Mountains
subalpine conifer forests cover the southeasternmost mountain valleys on the plateau The Qionglai-Minshan conifer forests
Qionglai-Minshan conifer forests
cover the eastern edges of the plateau and are the densest forests to be found anywhere on the Tibetan Plateau

Human history[edit]

Pastoral nomads camping near Namtso.

Main article: History of Tibet Nomads on the Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
and in the Himalayas
Himalayas
are the remainders of nomadic practices historically once widespread in Asia
Asia
and Africa.[19] Pastoral nomads constitute about 40% of the ethnic Tibetan population.[20] The presence of nomadic peoples on the plateau is predicated on their adaptation to survival on the world's grassland by raising livestock rather than crops, which are unsuitable to the terrain. Archaeological evidence suggests that the colonization leading to the full-time occupation of the plateau occurred much later than the previously thought 30,000 years ago.[citation needed][who?] Since colonization of the Tibetan Plateau, Tibetan culture
Tibetan culture
has adapted and flourished in the western, southern, and eastern regions of the plateau. The northern portion, the Changtang, is generally too high and cold to support permanent population.[21] One of the most notable civilizations to have developed on the Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
is the Tibetan Empire from the 7th century to the 9th century AD. Impact on other regions[edit] Role in monsoons[edit] Main article: Monsoon

Natural-colour satellite image of the Tibetan Plateau

Monsoons are caused by the different amplitudes of surface temperature seasonal cycles between land and oceans. This differential warming happens because heating rates differ between land and water. Ocean heating is distributed vertically through a "mixed layer" that may be fifty meters deep through the action of wind and buoyancy-generated turbulence, whereas the land surface conducts heat slowly, with the seasonal signal penetrating only a meter or so. Additionally, the specific heat capacity of liquid water is significantly greater than that of most materials that make up land. Together, these factors mean that the heat capacity of the layer participating in the seasonal cycle is much larger over the oceans than over land, with the consequence that the land warms and cools faster than the ocean. In turn, air over the land warms faster and reaches a higher temperature than does air over the ocean.[22] The warmer air over land tends to rise, creating an area of low pressure. The pressure anomaly then causes a steady wind to blow toward the land, which brings the moist air over the ocean surface with it. Rainfall is then increased by the presence of the moist ocean air. The rainfall is stimulated by a variety of mechanisms, such as low-level air being lifted upwards by mountains, surface heating, convergence at the surface, divergence aloft, or from storm-produced outflows near the surface. When such lifting occurs, the air cools due expansion in lower pressure, which in turn produces condensation and precipitation. In winter, the land cools off quickly, but the ocean maintains the heat longer. The hot air over the ocean rises, creating a low-pressure area and a breeze from land to ocean while a large area of drying high pressure is formed over the land, increased by wintertime cooling.[22] Monsoons are similar to sea and land breezes, a term usually referring to the localized, diurnal cycle of circulation near coastlines everywhere, but they are much larger in scale, stronger and seasonal.[23] The seasonal monsoon wind shift and weather associated with the heating and cooling of the Tibetan plateau is the strongest such monsoon on Earth. Glaciology: the Ice Age and at present[edit]

The Himalayas
Himalayas
as seen from space looking south from over the Tibetan Plateau.

Today, Tibet
Tibet
is an important heating surface of the atmosphere. However, during the Last Glacial Maximum, an approximately 2,400,000 square kilometres (930,000 sq mi) ice sheet covered the plateau.[24][25][26] Due to its great extent, this glaciation in the subtropics was an important element of radiative forcing. With a much lower latitude, the ice in Tibet
Tibet
reflected at least four times more radiation energy per unit area into space than ice at higher latitudes. Thus, while the modern plateau heats the overlying atmosphere, during the Last Ice Age it helped to cool it.[27] This cooling had multiple effects on regional climate. Without the thermal low pressure caused by the heating, there was no monsoon over the Indian subcontinent. This lack of monsoon caused extensive rainfall over the Sahara, expansion of the Thar Desert, more dust deposited into the Arabian Sea, and a lowering of the biotic life zones on the Indian subcontinent. Animals responded to this shift in climate, with the Javan rusa
Javan rusa
migrating into India.[28] In addition, the glaciers in Tibet
Tibet
created meltwater lakes in the Qaidam Basin, the Tarim Basin, and the Gobi Desert, despite the strong evaporation caused by the low latitude. Silt and clay from the glaciers accumulated in these lakes; when the lakes dried at the end of the ice age, the silt and clay were blown by the downslope wind off the Plateau. These airborne fine grains produced the enormous amount of loess in the Chinese lowlands.[28] Effect of climate change[edit] The Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
contains the world's third-largest store of ice. Qin Dahe, the former head of the China
China
Meteorological Administration, issued the following assessment in 2009:

Temperatures are rising four times faster than elsewhere in China, and the Tibetan glaciers are retreating at a higher speed than in any other part of the world. [...] In the short term, this will cause lakes to expand and bring floods and mudflows. [...] In the long run, the glaciers are vital lifelines for Asian rivers, including the Indus and the Ganges. Once they vanish, water supplies in those regions will be in peril.[29]

See also[edit]

Geography
Geography
of Tibet Tibet Tibetan people Tibetan culture

References[edit] Citations[edit]

^ Wang, Zhaoyin; Li, Zhiwei; Xu, Mengzhen; Yu, Guoan (Mar 30, 2016). River Morphodynamics and Stream
Stream
Ecology
Ecology
of the Qinghai- Tibet
Tibet
Plateau. CRC Press.  ^ Jones, J.A.; Liu, Changming; Woo, Ming-Ko; Kung, Hsiang-Te (Dec 6, 2012). Regional Hydrological Response to Climate Change. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 360.  ^ Illustrated Atlas of the World (1986) Rand McNally & Company. ISBN 0-528-83190-9 pp. 164–65 ^ Atlas of World History (1998 ) HarperCollins. ISBN 0-7230-1025-0 p. 39 ^ "The Tibetan Empire
Tibetan Empire
in Central Asia
Central Asia
(Christopher Beckwith)". Retrieved 2009-02-19.  ^ Hopkirk 1983, p. 1 ^ Peregrine, Peter Neal & Melvin Ember, etc. (2001). Encyclopedia of Prehistory: East Asia
East Asia
and Oceania, Volume 3. Springer. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-306-46257-3.  ^ Morris, Neil (2007). North and East Asia. Heinemann-Raintree Library. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-4034-9898-4.  ^ Webb, Andrew Alexander Gordon (2007). Contractional and Extensional Tectonics During the India- Asia
Asia
Collision. ProQuest
ProQuest
LLC. p. 137. ISBN 978-0-549-50627-0.  ^ Marston, Sallie A. and Paul L. Knox, Diana M. Liverman (2002). World regions in global context: peoples, places, and environments. Prentice Hall. p. 430. ISBN 978-0-13-022484-2. CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link) ^ "Natural World: Deserts". National Geographic. Archived from the original on 2006-01-12.  ^ Leslie Hook (August 30, 2013). "Tibet: life on the climate front line". The Financial Times. Retrieved September 1, 2013.  ^ Liu, Xiaodong; Chen (2000). "Climatic warming in the Tibetan Plateau during recent decades". International Journal of Climatology. 20 (14): 1729–1742. doi:10.1002/1097-0088(20001130)20:14<1729::aid-joc556>3.0.co;2-y – via Academia.edu.  access-date= requires url= (help) ^ Ni, Jian (2000). "A Simulation of Biomes on the Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
and Their Responses to Global Climate Change". Mountain Research and Development. 20 (1): 80–89. doi:10.1659/0276-4741(2000)020[0080:ASOBOT]2.0.CO;2. Retrieved 26 August 2016 – via BioOne.  ^ Cheng, Guodong; Wu (8 June 2007). "Responses of permafrost to climate change and their environmental significance, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau". Journal of Geophysical Research. 112 (F2). Bibcode:2007JGRF..112.2S03C. doi:10.1029/2006JF000631. Retrieved 26 August 2016 – via Wiley.  ^ Yang, Qinye; Zheng, Du (2004). A Unique Geographical Unit. ISBN 9787508506654. Retrieved 2007-08-05.  ^ Lia, Jijun; Ma, Zhenhua; Li, Xiaomiao; Peng, Tingjiang; Guo, Benhong; Zhang, Jun; Song, Chunhui; Liu, Jia; Hui, Zhengchuang; Yu, Hao; Ye, Xiyan; Liu, Shanpin; Wang Xiuxi (2017). "Late Miocene-Pliocene geomorphological evolution of the Xiaoshuizi peneplain in the Maxian Mountains and its tectonic significance for the northeastern Tibetan Plateau". Geomorphology. 295: 393–405. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2017.07.024. CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link) ^ "Wild China: The Tibetan Plateau". The Nature of Things. Canadian Broadcasting Company. Retrieved 2013-03-21.  ^ David Miller. "Nomads of Tibet
Tibet
and Bhutan". asinart.com. Retrieved 2008-02-10.  ^ In pictures: Tibetan nomads BBC
BBC
News ^ Ryavec, Karl (2015). A Historical Atlas of Tibet. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226732442.  ^ a b Oracle Thinkquest Education Foundation. monsoons: causes of monsoons. Archived 16 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 22 May 2008. ^ "The Asian Monsoon". BBC
BBC
Weather. Archived from the original on 2004-11-01.  ^ Kuhle, Matthias (1998). "Reconstruction of the 2.4 Million km2 Late Pleistocene Ice Sheet on the Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
and its Impact on the Global Climate". Quaternary International. 45/46: 71–108. doi:10.1016/S1040-6182(97)00008-6.  ^ Kuhle, M (2004). "The High Glacial (Last Ice Age and LGM) ice cover in High and Central Asia". In Ehlers, J.; Gibbard, P.L. Development in Quaternary Science 2c (Quaternary Glaciation – Extent and Chronology, Part III: South America, Asia, Africa, Australia, Antarctica). pp. 175–99.  ^ Kuhle, M. (1999). " Tibet
Tibet
and High Asia
Asia
V. Results of Investigations into High Mountain Geomorphology, Paleo- Glaciology
Glaciology
and Climatology
Climatology
of the Pleistocene". GeoJournal. 47 (1–2): 3–276. doi:10.1023/A:1007039510460.  See chapter entitled: "Reconstruction of an approximately complete Quaternary Tibetan Inland Glaciation between the Mt. Everest and Cho Oyu Massifs and the Aksai Chin. – A new glaciogeomorphological southeast-northwest diagonal profile through Tibet
Tibet
and its consequences for the glacial isostasy and Ice Age cycle". ^ Kuhle, M. (1988). "The Pleistocene Glaciation of Tibet
Tibet
and the Onset of Ice Ages – An Autocycle Hypothesis". GeoJournal. 17 (4): 581–96. doi:10.1007/BF00209444. Tibet
Tibet
and High- Asia
Asia
I. Results of the Sino-German Joint Expeditions (I).  ^ a b Kuhle, Matthias (2001). "The Tibetan Ice Sheet; its Impact on the Palaeomonsoon and Relation to the Earth's Orbital Variations". Polarforschung. 71 (1/2): 1–13.  ^ " Global warming
Global warming
benefits to Tibet: Chinese official". AFP. 2009-08-18. 

Sources[edit]

Hopkirk, Peter (1983). Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet. J. P. Tarcher. ISBN 0-87477-257-5.  Brantingham, P. J. & Xing, G. (2006). "Peopling of the northern Tibetan Plateau". World Archaeology. 38 (3): 387–414. doi:10.1080/00438240600813301. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tibetan Plateau.

ON THINNER ICE 如履薄冰 (by GRIP, Asia
Asia
Society and MediaStorm) The Third Pole: Understanding Asia's Water Crisis The End of Earth's Summer Long Rivers and Distant Sources "Roof of the Earth" Offers Clues About How Our Planet Was Shaped Plateau
Plateau
Perspectives (international NGO) Leaf morphology and the timing of the rise of the Tibetan Plateau Weather in the eastern Chang Tang at the Wayback Machine
Wayback Machine
(archived 19 March 2006) Protected areas of the Tibetan Plateau
Plateau
region "North Tibetan Plateau- Kunlun Mountains
Kunlun Mountains
alpine desert". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.  Photos of Tibetan nomads "Roof of the Earth" Offers Clues About How Our Planet Was Shaped Contemporary lifestyle and language learning center from Tibet
Tibet
lhasa, the official language of Tibetan. podcast.

v t e

Plateaus of China

Loess
Loess
Plateau

Hetao Wuzhang Plains

Mongolian Plateau

Bashang Plateau

Tibetan Plateau Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau

v t e

Geography
Geography
topics

History Index Outline

Branches

Human

Agricultural Behavioral Cultural Development Economic Health Historical Political Population Settlement

Regional Urban

Physical

Biogeography

Ecology Phytogeography Zoogeography

Coastal / Oceanography Earth science

Atmospheric science
Atmospheric science
/ Meteorology Environmental science Climatology
Climatology
/ Paleoclimatology
Paleoclimatology
/ Palaeogeography Geobiology Geophysics
Geophysics
/ Geodesy

Earth system science Geomorphology
Geomorphology
/ Geology Glaciology Hydrology
Hydrology
/ Limnology Pedology (Edaphology/Soil science) Quaternary science

Integrated

Integrated / Environmental

Environmental social science Environmental studies Landscape architecture Landscape ecology

Time geography

Techniques and tools

Geoinformatics
Geoinformatics
/ Geomathematics

Cartography Geologic modelling Geostatistics Geographic information system

Geochronology Geomatics Hydrography

Photogrammetry Remote sensing

Institutions

Geographic data and information organizations Geographical societies Geoscience societies National mapping agency

Education

Geography
Geography
education

Geo-literacy International Geography
Geography
Olympiad MSc in Geographic Information Science/Systems Spatial citizenship

Category Portal Commons WikiProject

v t e

Physical geography

Atmospheric science
Atmospheric science
/ Meteorology Biogeography
Biogeography
/ Phytogeography Climatology
Climatology
/ Paleoclimatology
Paleoclimatology
/ Palaeogeography Coastal geography
Coastal geography
/ Oceanography Edaphology
Edaphology
/ Pedology or Soil science Geobiology Geology Geomorphology Geostatistics Glaciology Hydrology
Hydrology
/ Limnology Landscape ecology Quaternary science

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 87145857822123020448 GND: 4095373-7 SUDOC: 074242156 BNF:

.