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The Time–Space Structure of the Asian–Pacific Summer Monsoon: A Fast Annual Cycle View

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
  • | 2 Department of Meteorology and the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii
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Abstract

Despite the seemingly intricate and multifold time–space structure of the mean Asian–Pacific summer monsoon (APSM), its complexity can be greatly reduced once the significance of fast annual cycles has been recognized and put into perspective. The APSM climatology is characterized by a slowly evolving seasonal transition (slow annual cycle) superposed by pronounced singularities in the intraseasonal timescale, termed the “fast annual cycle” in this study. The fast annual cycles show nonrepetitive features from one episode to another, which are often divided by abrupt change events. The APSM fast annual cycles are composed mainly of two monsoon outbreaks, each marking a distinctive dry–wet cycle. The first cycle spans from the middle of May to early July and the second cycle from late July to early September. When the first cycle reaches its peak in mid-June, a slingshot-like convection zone, described as the grand-onset pattern, rules an area from the Arabian Sea to the Indochina Peninsula then bifurcates into a mei-yu branch and a tropical rain belt in the lower western North Pacific. After a brief recess during 20–29 July, the APSM harbors another rain surge in mid-August. This time a giant oceanic cyclone intensifies over the western North Pacific (around 20°N, 140°E); thus the rainy regime jumps 10°–15° north of the previous rain belt. This ocean monsoon gyre incubates numerous tropical cyclones. Meanwhile, the convection zone of the Indian monsoon intensifies and extends well into the subcontinent interior.

From the first to second cycle the major convection center has shifted from the adjacent seas in the northern Indian Ocean to the open ocean east of the Philippine Islands. The major cloud movement also switches from a northeastward direction in the Indian Ocean to a northwestward direction over the western North Pacific.

The two monsoon cycles turn out to be a global phenomenon. This can be shown by the coherent seasonal migration of upper-level subtropical ridgelines in the Northern Hemisphere. During the first cycle all the ridgelines migrate northward rapidly, a sign that the major circulation systems of boreal summer go through a developing stage. After 20–29 July, they reach a quasi steady state, a state in which all ridgelines stand still near their northern rim throughout the entire second cycle.

A reconstructed fast annual cycle based on four leading empirical orthogonal function modes is capable of reproducing most fine details of the APSM climatology, suggesting that the subseasonal changes of the mean APSM possess a limited number of degrees of freedom. A monsoon calendar designed on the basis of fast annual cycles (FACs) gives a concise description of the APSM climatology and provides benchmarks for validating climate model simulations.

Corresponding author address: Dr. LinHo, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan. Email: linho@linhol.as.ntu.edu.tw

Abstract

Despite the seemingly intricate and multifold time–space structure of the mean Asian–Pacific summer monsoon (APSM), its complexity can be greatly reduced once the significance of fast annual cycles has been recognized and put into perspective. The APSM climatology is characterized by a slowly evolving seasonal transition (slow annual cycle) superposed by pronounced singularities in the intraseasonal timescale, termed the “fast annual cycle” in this study. The fast annual cycles show nonrepetitive features from one episode to another, which are often divided by abrupt change events. The APSM fast annual cycles are composed mainly of two monsoon outbreaks, each marking a distinctive dry–wet cycle. The first cycle spans from the middle of May to early July and the second cycle from late July to early September. When the first cycle reaches its peak in mid-June, a slingshot-like convection zone, described as the grand-onset pattern, rules an area from the Arabian Sea to the Indochina Peninsula then bifurcates into a mei-yu branch and a tropical rain belt in the lower western North Pacific. After a brief recess during 20–29 July, the APSM harbors another rain surge in mid-August. This time a giant oceanic cyclone intensifies over the western North Pacific (around 20°N, 140°E); thus the rainy regime jumps 10°–15° north of the previous rain belt. This ocean monsoon gyre incubates numerous tropical cyclones. Meanwhile, the convection zone of the Indian monsoon intensifies and extends well into the subcontinent interior.

From the first to second cycle the major convection center has shifted from the adjacent seas in the northern Indian Ocean to the open ocean east of the Philippine Islands. The major cloud movement also switches from a northeastward direction in the Indian Ocean to a northwestward direction over the western North Pacific.

The two monsoon cycles turn out to be a global phenomenon. This can be shown by the coherent seasonal migration of upper-level subtropical ridgelines in the Northern Hemisphere. During the first cycle all the ridgelines migrate northward rapidly, a sign that the major circulation systems of boreal summer go through a developing stage. After 20–29 July, they reach a quasi steady state, a state in which all ridgelines stand still near their northern rim throughout the entire second cycle.

A reconstructed fast annual cycle based on four leading empirical orthogonal function modes is capable of reproducing most fine details of the APSM climatology, suggesting that the subseasonal changes of the mean APSM possess a limited number of degrees of freedom. A monsoon calendar designed on the basis of fast annual cycles (FACs) gives a concise description of the APSM climatology and provides benchmarks for validating climate model simulations.

Corresponding author address: Dr. LinHo, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan. Email: linho@linhol.as.ntu.edu.tw

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