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Keywords:

  • altitude;
  • latitude;
  • temperature extremes;
  • South Asia

Abstract

South Asia covers more than 30° of latitude with weather observation stations situated from 6°N at Galle, Sri Lanka, to 36°N at Chitral in Pakistan. Moreover, the South Asian station network ranges in altitude from sea level to nearly 4000 m above sea level. This paper uses time series of 11 objectively defined indices of daily temperature extremes at 197 stations in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to examine the possible impacts of elevation and latitude on changes in temperature extremes over the period of 1971–2000. Trends in extreme indices are consistent with general warming only at low altitudes and latitudes. Stations at high altitudes and latitudes show both positive and negative trends in extreme temperature indices. As a notable example, the Diurnal Temperature Range (DTR), which has been known to decrease in most parts of the globe, has increasing trends over many high altitude stations in South Asia. Trends in extreme temperature indices at stations in South Asia higher than 2000 m above sea level are mostly in disagreement with those reported over the Tibetan Plateau. Observed trends at low altitude locations in South Asia suggest that these sites can generally expect future changes in temperature extremes that are consistent with broad-scale warming. High-elevation sites appear to be more influenced by local factors and, hence, future changes in temperature extremes may be less predictable for these locations. Copyright © 2012 Royal Meteorological Society