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Projections of changes in climate extreme are important in assessing the potential impacts of climate change on social and natural systems. This article presents future projections of climate extremes in the Tibetan Plateau constructed from ensembles of coupled general circulation models (CGCMs) contributing to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR4), under a range of emission scenarios. The extremes of temperature and precipitation are described by seven indices, namely, the frost day (FD), percentage of nights when Tmin > 90th percentile (TN90), consecutive dry days (CDD), annual count of days when precipitation >=10 mm (R10), maximum 5-day precipitation total (R5D), simple daily intensity index (SDII), and annual total precipitation when precipitation > 95th percentile (R95T). Results indicate that frost days decrease over the Tibetan Plateau in the 21st century. More frequent warm nights are also projected in the plateau. The increases of these temperature extremes under A2 and A1B scenarios are more pronounced than under B1. Heavy precipitation events for single days and pentads are projected to increase in their intensity over most parts of Tibetan Plateau. CDD, R10, R5D, R95T and SDII collectively suggest more extreme precipitation in the region (2011–2020). In addition, impacts of climate extremes changes on local water resources and fragile ecosystem are discussed as an extension of this article. The findings will be beneficial to project regional responses in this unique region to global climate change, and then to formulate regional strategies against the potential menaces of climate change.
► Testify the skill scores of IPCC AR4 GCMs in simulating the climate extremes.
► Construct reliable scenarios of future climate extremes over the Tibetan Plateau using multi-model ensemble approaches.
► Discuss potential impacts of climate extremes changes on local hydrological processes and ecosystem in the unique region.
Journal: Global and Planetary Change - Volumes 80–81, January 2012, Pages 1–13