Observed changes of temperature extremes during 1960–2005 in China: natural or human-induced variations?

Qiang Zhang*, Jianfeng Li, Yongqin David Chen, Xiaohong Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to statistically examine changes of surface air temperature in time and space and to analyze two factors potentially influencing air temperature changes in China, i.e., urbanization and net solar radiation. Trends within the temperature series were detected by using Mann-Kendall trend test technique. The scientific problem this study expected to address was that what could be the role of human activities in the changes of temperature extremes. Other influencing factors such as net solar radiation were also discussed. The results of this study indicated that: (1) increasing temperature was observed mainly in the northeast and northwest China; (2) different behaviors were identified in the changes of maximum and minimum temperature respectively. Maximum temperature seemed to be more influenced by urbanization, which could be due to increasing urban albedo, aerosol, and air pollutions in the urbanized areas. Minimum temperature was subject to influences of variations of net solar radiation; (3) not significant increasing and even decreasing temperature extremes in the Yangtze River basin and the regions south to the Yangtze River basin could be the consequences of higher relative humidity as a result of increasing precipitation; (4) the entire China was dominated by increasing minimum temperature. Thus, we can say that the warming process of China was reflected mainly by increasing minimum temperature. In addition, consistently increasing temperature was found in the upper reaches of the Yellow River basin, the Yangtze River basin, which have the potential to enhance the melting of permafrost in these areas. This may trigger new ecological problems and raise new challenges for the river basin scale water resource management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-431
Number of pages15
JournalTheoretical and Applied Climatology
Issue number3-4
Early online date26 Apr 2011
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011

User-Defined Keywords

  • River Basin
  • Minimum Temperature
  • Temperature Extreme
  • Yangtze River Basin
  • Yellow River Basin


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