Harvard climate scientists suggest that the Tibetan Plateau -- thought to be the primary source of heat that drives the South Asian monsoon -- may have far less of an effect than the Himalayas and other surrounding mountains. As the monsoon brings needed rainfall and water to billions of people each year, understanding its proper origin, especially in the context of global climate change, is crucial for the future sustainability of the region.
The researchers say the their findings, published in the January 14th issue of Nature, have broad implications for how the Asian climate may have responded to mountain uplift in the past, and for how it might respond to surface changes in the coming decades.
Often called the "roof of the world," the Tibetan Plateau is a vast area of 2.5 million square kilometers with an average elevation of more than 4,500 meters. Scientists have long theorized that the massive release of heat from the surface of the plateau -- with ...