Articles | Volume 28, issue 6
ANGEO Communicates
25 Jun 2010
ANGEO Communicates |  | 25 Jun 2010

Analysis of the 2008 heavy snowfall over South China using GPS PWV measurements from the Tibetan Plateau

Y. Xie, F. Wei, G. Chen, T. Zhang, and L. Hu

Abstract. Four successive storms with freezing rain and snow blanketed South China from 10 January–2 February 2008, when the precipitation increased more than 200%–300% above the average for the corresponding period. The unusual atmospheric circulation associated with these disasters was caused by many complex physical processes, one of which was the active southern branch of currents over low latitude ocean areas which provided plenty of water vapor for South China. The ground-based GPS Precipitable Water Vapor (PWV) measurements on the Tibetan Plateau, supported by the China and Japan Intergovernmental Cooperation Program (JICA), has compensated for the lack of conventional observations of atmospheric water vapor in this area and provided a good opportunity to analyze the character of the water vapor transport in the four heavy precipitation processes. It was found that the GPS stations located on the southeastern Tibetan Plateau were on the route of the water vapor transport during 25 January–29 January and 31 January–2 February when two heavy precipitation events occurred over South China. The increasing trend from the one to two days pre-observation by the GPS stations was then associated with the heavy precipitation. Precipitation during 10 January–16 January and 18 January–22 January was significantly related to the abnormal variation of the one day pre-observation by the GPS stations located on the northeastern Tibetan Plateau. This research indicates that ground-based GPS measurements are applicable to data assimilation in operational numerical models.