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Half a Century of Diurnal Temperature Range Changes in China

Paper Reviewed
Shen, X., Liu, B., Li, G., Wu, Z., Jin, Y., Yu, P. and Zhou, D. 2014. Spatiotemporal change of diurnal temperature range and its relationship with sunshine duration and precipitation in China. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 119: 13,163-13,179.

In a study of diurnal temperature range (DTR), defined as daily Tmax minus daily Tmin, that was conducted for the entirety of China based on data collected from 479 weather stations for the period 1962 to 2011, Shen et al. (2014) found that the country-wide DTR declined at a mean rate of 0.157°C/decade, which phenomenon they attributed to the fact that, in most parts of the world, daily minimum temperatures increased at a faster rate than daily maximum temperatures since the 1950s, citing the similar findings of Karl et al. (1993), Horton (1995), Easterling et al. (1997) and Zhou et al. (2009), while additionally noting that "DTR decreased significantly in China over the past several decades," citing Karl et al. (1991, 1993), Kukla and Karl (1993), Dai et al. (1997, 1999), Liu et al. (2004), Ye et al. (2010), Zhou and Ren (2011), Wang and Dickinson (2013), Xia (2013) and Wang et al. (2014).

And why are these findings so important? They are important because cold temperature extremes are responsible for far more deaths around the world than are warm temperature extremes, as may be seen by perusing the materials we have posted under the heading of Health Effects (Temperature - Hot vs. Cold Weather) in our Subject Index. And this finding suggests that if the Earth were to continue to warm as it did over much of the 20th century, this phenomenon should lead to a significant reduction in temperature-related human mortality."

Dai, A., DelGenio, A.D. and Fung, I.Y. 1997. Clouds, precipitation and diurnal temperature range. Nature 386: 665-666.

Dai, A., Trenberth, K.E. and Karl, T.R. 1999. Effects of clouds, soil moisture, precipitation, and water vapor on diurnal temperature range. Journal of Climate 12: 2451-2473.

Easterling, D.R., Horton, B., Jones, P.D., Peterson, T.C., Karl, T.R., Parker, D.E., Salinger, M.J., Razuvayev, V., Plummer, N., Jamason, P. and Folland, C.K. 1997. Maximum and minimum temperature trends for the globe. Science 277: 364-367.

Horton, B. 1995. Geographical distribution of changes in maximum and minimum temperatures. Atmospheric Research 37: 101-117.

Karl, T.R., Kukla, G., Razuvayev, V.N., Changery, M.J., Quayle, R.G., Heim Jr., R.R., Easterling, D.R. and Fu, C.B. 1991. Global warming: evidence for asymmetric diurnal temperature change. Geophysical Research Letters 18: 2253-2256.

Karl, T.R., Jones, P.D., Knight, R.W., Kukla, G., Plummer, N., Razuvayev, V., Gallo, K.P., Lindseay, J., Charlson, P.J. and Peterson, T.D. 1993. Asymmetric trends of daily maximum and minimum temperature. Bulletin of the American Meteorology Society 74: 1007-1023.

Kukla, G. and Karl, T.R. 1993. Nighttime warming and the greenhouse effect. Environmental Science and Technology 27: 1468-1474.

Liu, B., Xu, M., Henderson, M., Qi, Y. and Li, Y. 2004. Taking China's temperature: Daily range, warming trends, and regional variations, 1955-2000. Journal of Climate 17: 4453-4462.

Wang, F., Zhang, C., Peng, Y. and Zhou, H. 2014. Diurnal temperature range variation and its causes in a semiarid region from 1957 to 2006. International Journal of Climatology 34: 343-354.

Wang, K. and Dickinson, R.E. 2013. Contribution of solar radiation to decadal temperature variability over land. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 110: 14,877-14,882.

Ye, J., Li, F., Sun, G. and Guo, A. 2010. Solar dimming and its impact on estimating solar radiation from diurnal temperature range in China, 1961-2007. Theoretical and Applied Climatology 101: 137-142.

Zhou, L., Dai, A., Dai, Y., Vose, R.S., Zou, C.Z., Tian, Y. and Chen, H. 2009. Spatial dependence of diurnal temperature range trends on precipitation from 1950-2004. Climate Dynamics 32: 429-440.

Zhou, Y.Q. and Ren, G.Y. 2011. Change in extreme temperature events frequency over Mainland China during 1961-2008. Climatic Research 50: 125-139.

Posted 29 April 2015