The Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau or Yungui Plateau (simplified Chinese: 云贵高原; traditional Chinese: 雲貴高原; pinyin: Yúnguì Gāoyuán) is a plateau located in the provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou in southwest China. There are two distinct areas of this plateau: an area of high plateau averaging about 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) with mountain peaks as high as 3,700 m (12,100 ft) in northern Yunnan, and an area of rolling hills, deep river-carved gorges, and mountains marked with geologic faults in western Guizhou. Easily eroded limestone underlies the plateau, allowing for spectacular karsts.
Due to its high elevation and low latitude, the climate of the plateau is subject to intense solar radiation and cool temperatures with a large daily fluctuation and little yearly variation. The climate is divided into dry and wet seasons. Overall, the description of the climate is complicated on the Plateau as the temperature varies from place to place. The height of the Plateau accounts for approximately one-third of the troposphere on earth due to its high elevation, since as height rises, troposphere drops. For every 100 m (330 ft) rise, in general there is a 0.6 °C (1.1 °F) fall in temperature. In north Tibet the atmospheric temperatures are in closed temperature isolines showing the distinct impact of high elevation on temperature.
During the Quaternary there have been alternating glacial and interglacial periods, four glacial periods and three interglacial. The North Tibet Plateau has large areas of permafrost. The Qinghai–Tibet Plateau is still in a glacial period.
The many high mountain peaks on Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau are the source of many of Asia's great rivers. Some merge and become great rivers flowing into the sea, while others empty into inland lakes. Rivers from the southeast include the Yangtze and Yellow rivers and the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra River known as the Tongtian River, Garmalequ, Shiquan, Yarlung Tsangpo and Nyang Rivers and Lancang rivers. To the north are rivers that begin in glaciers and flow into inland lakes or dry inland basins.
The Tibetan Plateau (Qinghai–Tibet Plateau) is one of the areas with the most lakes in China of all sizes and descriptions. Most of the lakes are clustered. A lake usually lies in a depression or basin. The Tibet Autonomous Region has more than 1,500 lakes alone. The largest inland lake is the Nam Co, followed by Seling Co and Zhari Nam Co.
The climate is rainy in the southwest in the summer, providing for dense forests, both broadleaf and coniferous. The shrubbery is varied from needles bush thickets to acacia bushes growing in dry river beds. It is grassy marshland in the Tibet Autonomous Region.
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