Atmospheric Water Vapor over China

Panmao Zhai CMA/National Climate Center, Beijing, People’s Republic of China

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Robert E. Eskridge National Climatic Data Center, Global Climate Laboratory, Asheville, North Carolina

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Abstract

Chinese radiosonde data from 1970 to 1990 are relatively homogeneous in time and are used to examine the climatology, trends, and variability of China’s atmospheric water vapor content. The climatological distribution of precipitable water (PW) is primarily dependent on surface temperature. Influenced by the east Asia monsoon, China’s precipitable water exhibits very large seasonal variations. Station elevation is also a dominant factor affecting water vapor distribution in China.

An increase (decrease) in precipitable water over China is associated with an increase (decrease) of precipitation in most regions. Increases in the percentage of PW relative to climatology are greater in winter and spring than in summer and autumn.

Interannual variation and trends in precipitable water and surface temperature are closely correlated in China, confirming a positive “greenhouse” feedback. Interannual variations between precipitable water and precipitation are also significantly correlated.

* Part of this work done while the author was a visiting scientist at the National Climatic Data Center.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Robert E. Eskridge, National Climatic Data Center, 151 Patton Ave., Asheville, NC 28801-5001.

Email: beskridg@ncdc.noaa.gov

Abstract

Chinese radiosonde data from 1970 to 1990 are relatively homogeneous in time and are used to examine the climatology, trends, and variability of China’s atmospheric water vapor content. The climatological distribution of precipitable water (PW) is primarily dependent on surface temperature. Influenced by the east Asia monsoon, China’s precipitable water exhibits very large seasonal variations. Station elevation is also a dominant factor affecting water vapor distribution in China.

An increase (decrease) in precipitable water over China is associated with an increase (decrease) of precipitation in most regions. Increases in the percentage of PW relative to climatology are greater in winter and spring than in summer and autumn.

Interannual variation and trends in precipitable water and surface temperature are closely correlated in China, confirming a positive “greenhouse” feedback. Interannual variations between precipitable water and precipitation are also significantly correlated.

* Part of this work done while the author was a visiting scientist at the National Climatic Data Center.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Robert E. Eskridge, National Climatic Data Center, 151 Patton Ave., Asheville, NC 28801-5001.

Email: beskridg@ncdc.noaa.gov

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