• climate change;
  • global warming;
  • temperature;
  • trend analysis;
  • Yunnan Plateau


Monthly mean (TEM), maximum (Tmax) and minimum (Tmin) surface air temperatures at 119 meteorological stations on the Yunnan Plateau (YP, Southwest China) were analysed for temporal trends and spatial variation patterns during the period 1961–2004. Linear trend analyses revealed that annual temperature over the YP increased at a rate of 0.3 °C/decade during the period 1961–2004, while warming trend of 0.33 °C/decade and 0.26 °C/decade was observed for winter and summer temperatures, respectively. Warming trends of nighttime minimum temperature are more pronounced than those of daytime maximum temperature, especially during winter season. Consequently, a decreasing trend of diurnal temperature ranges (DTR = TmaxTmin) was observed. Five spatial patterns of temperature variability were objectively defined by rotated empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis, which are associated with distinct temporal temperature variations and geographical area over the YP. Annual temperature increases were found to be most pronounced in the southern and northwestern (high-elevation) parts of the YP, whereas the hot-dry valleys along the Yangtze and Red River basins experienced cooling during the past four decades. Copyright © 2010 Royal Meteorological Society