Shallow soil refers to the soil layer within 50 cm underground. Shallow soil temperature (ST) affects many processes that occur in the soil. Therefore, the study of shallow ST is of great significance in understanding energy, hydrological cycles and climate change. This work collected the observational data from 141 meteorological stations on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau from 1981 to 2020, analyzed the ST as well as its temporal and spatial change characteristics at different levels. The results show that: 1) The shallow ST has a gradually increasing trend from north to south, from west to east. From the perspective of time characteristics, the increasing trend is obvious. The temperature increase of 0–20 cm (the surface layer of the shallow soil) is roughly the same. The average annual is 9.15–9.57 ℃, the interdecadal variabilities are 0.49–0.53 K/10a. The average annual of 40 cm (the bottom layer) is 8.69 ℃, the interdecadal variability reaches by 0.98 K/10a; 2) Judging from the 12 regions of 20 cm, the temperature increase trend is obvious, but there are certain regional differences. The average value ranges from 4.3 ℃ (region 4, Qaidam Plateau) to 18.1 ℃ (region 10, Southeast Qinghai-Tibet Plateau), the difference is nearly 14 K. The standard deviation ranges from 0.38 K (region 10) to 0.82 K (region 11, Northern Qiangtang Plateau); 3) The results of the reanalysis data are lower than the observational data. This work is significant for understanding the characteristics of the ST evolution and the land-atmosphere interaction on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.