Dear TPE Community,

As the end of 2019 draws near, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for an extraordinary year. Every year is different, but this one has been particularly special for TPE in many ways. 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of TPE. When TPE was launched in 2009, the co-chairs envisioned a science program that would make a difference in how people understand, develop and preserve the Third Pole region through international collaboration to conduct advanced environmental research.

Ten years later, TPE scientists have found the region is becoming warmer and wetter. Climate and cryosphere changes have affected current and future water availability and security of the Third Pole. Known as the “Asian water towers,” the TP mountains supply vital water resources to over 2 billion people. A study led by TPE scientists recently ranked Asian water towers as the world’s most important and most vulnerable system.

TPE research objectives focus on process studies, sustainability and well-being of regional/local communities. To this end, TPE has built a network of stations to monitor changes in Asian water towers. This year the network has expanded to include tethered balloons that collected key atmospheric water vapor transport data from altitudes up to 7000m.This year, TPE also has organized a series of workshops to address challenges in understanding the changes in Asian water towers. For example, at the High Mountain Summit organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), with TPE as a key partner, TPE proposed integration of observation and information systems as an important response to Asian water tower changes.

The success of TPE is based on the international cooperation network we have built over the past decade.This year we made further progress in building this network.As the year wraps up, we are happy to announce a MOU with WMO and the opening of a new TPE office in Frankfurt, Germany. A TPE project has also been endorsed by the Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) as Flagship Pilot Studies. In addition, we have expanded the scope of cooperation with AGU, Arctic Circle, UNEP and UNESCO.

The TPE office is also growing with time. This year we are proud to present our brand-new website(, where you can learn all about us. We would also like to take this opportunity to invite you to share( your findings, projects and job opportunities on our website.

TPE would not be where we are without your support over the last 10 years.We are grateful for the opportunity to work with, and for, you. Our passion for science remains strong and our commitment to local communities remains firm.Our enthusiasm and anticipation are increasing along with new opportunities and new TPE activities. We invite you to stay tuned for more TPE progress in the New Year!

Happy Holidays!

The International Program Office of Third Pole Environment


January 26-27

The International Workshop on Cryosphere and Water Cycle Observation-Modelling Integration over Third Pole, Beijing, China

July 11-12

The International Workshop on Asian Water Tower, Beijing, China

August 12-23

The 2019 TPE Science & Technology Training, Chengdu, China

October 14-18

The International Conference on Regional Climate (ICRC)-CORDEX, Beijing, China

October 10-12

Arctic Circle Assembly, Reykjavik, Iceland

October 30

WMO TPE-GCW Side Event: Roadmap to integrated mountain cryosphere observation and information system, Geneva, Switzerland

November 29-10

2019 TPE Workshop, Frankfurt, Germany

December 12-13

TPE Session “The Third Pole Environment Under Global Changes”at 2019 AGU Fall Meeting


TPE at a glance

What is Asian Water Tower?

TPE Takes New Step to Connect the Third Pole and the Arctic

TPE Project endorsed by WCRP-CORDEX as a new Flagship Pilot Studies

TPE Observation Work Presented at WMO High Mountain Summit

TPE and GCW Highlighted observation-prediction integration on WMO High Mountain Summit

Prof. Lonnie Thompson: The Demise of Low-Latitude Glaciers

Prof. Deliang Chen: The importance of high mountain observations to integrated mountain prediction


The Tibetan Plateau was found initially occupied by Middle Pleistocene Denisovans

May 20

Study reveals pikas’ impact on Tibetan grassland degradation

May 30

Feeling Heat on the Roof of the World

June 6

Climate Change: How El Nino Affects the Tibetan Plateau

June 6

Pollutants to the Third Pole: traveling over mountains and through the valleys

June 6

A 3D View of Climatic Behavior at the Third Pole

June 19

Cryoconite: An Unrecognized Reservoir for Atmospheric Mercury Accumulation

June 21

Researchers Make Major Breakthrough in TP Data Assimilation System

August 5

Scientists Reveal Temperature Surge at the Third Pole

August 26

Climate Change May Have Influenced Prehistoric Human Activities

October 29

Camouflaged Plants Use the Same Tricks as Animals

October 29

Winds of Change: Scope, Causes and Implications for Wind Energy of a Reversal in Global Terrestrial Stilling

November 20

Soil Organic Matter Stability Plays A Major Role in Regulating the Priming Effect

November 14

Research Shows Increased Sediment Flux in the Yangtze River Headwater

November 25