Third Pole Environment (TPE) -Latest Progress

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Zhi Liu, Tandong Yao, Fan Zhang, Xiaoxin Yang, Weicai Wang and Fan Ping, ITP Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
Centered on the Tibetan Plateau, the Third Pole region is a unique geographical unit, which represents one of the largest ice masses on the Earth. The region has great impacts on environmental changes in China, the Northern Hemisphere and the globe.It also demonstrates sensitive feedbacks to global changes and the impacts of anthropogenic activities in surrounding regions. Like the Arctic and Antarctica, the Third Pole region is an especially sensitive area that draws great attention from the scientific community. In 2009, with support from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and international organizations, the Third Pole Environment (TPE) program, led by Chinese scientists, was officially launched. The program focuses on the theme of “water-ice-air-ecosystem-human” interactions, with the aim to address the following scientific questions, such as the spatial and temporal characteristics of past environmental changes in the Third pole, the interactions between hydrosphere and cryosphere and hazard processes, the ecological systems’ impacts on and response to environmental changes, and the impacts of anthropogenic activities on environmental changes in the region and adaptation strategies. The goal of the program is to reveal environmental change processes and mechanisms on the Third Pole and their influences on and responses to global changes, and thus to serve for enhancement of human adaptation to the changing environment and realization of human-nature harmony.

Under the leadership of the co-chairs, and relying on Scientific Committee and the TPE office, the program has accomplished a number of scientific tasks since its inauguration. TPE has made tremendous progress in the research of glacier changes, interactions between the westerlies and monsoon, establishment of field stations, data sharing and education.