The result, scientists say, could be severe shortages of water supplies needed for irrigation and millions of people living in some of China’s biggest cities.
 
 
Once known as "China's sorrow" for its catastrophic flooding, at several points it now dries up altogether at certain times of year.
 
Commenting on the findings, Xu told the China Daily that "decades of research" had found that the plateau acted as a barometer for weather conditions in other parts of China and the world.
 
He said satellite data showed the "strong movement of clouds" above the plateau in July 1998 was linked to China's worst floods in decades in the summer of that year.
 
Higher than average temperatures on the plateau in the winter of 2005-2006 also partly contributed to last year's heat waves across the country, Xu said.
 
Since the 1980s, he said, average temperatures in the Tibet plateau had risen by at least 1C and were continuing to rise.
 
A recent study by the United Nations Development Programme has warned that the rate of glacier melt in the Himalayas could see them disappear altogether by 2100.