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Role of Tropical Cyclones along the Monsoon Trough in the 2011 Thai Flood and Interannual Variability

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  • 1 Tokyo Metropolitan University, Hachioji, and Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Yokohama, Japan
  • | 2 Hydrospheric Atmospheric Research Center, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
  • | 3 Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto, Japan
  • | 4 Tokyo Metropolitan University, Hachioji, and Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Yokohama, Japan
  • | 5 Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Bangkok, Thailand
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Abstract

The atmospheric circulation patterns that were responsible for the heavy flooding that occurred in Thailand in 2011 are examined. This paper also investigates the interannual variation in precipitation over Indochina over a 33-yr period from 1979–2011, focusing on the role of westward-propagating tropical cyclones (TCs) over the Asian monsoon region. Cyclonic anomalies and more westward-propagating TCs than expected from the climatology of the area were observed in 2011 along the monsoon trough from the northern Indian subcontinent, the Bay of Bengal, Indochina, and the western North Pacific, which contributed significantly to the 2011 Thai flood. The strength of monsoon westerlies was normal, which implies that the monsoon westerly was not responsible for the seasonal heavy rainfall in 2011. Similar results were also obtained from the 33-yr statistical analysis. The 5-month total precipitation over Indochina covaried interannually with that along the monsoon trough. In addition, above-normal precipitation over Indochina was observed when enhanced cyclonic circulation with more westward-propagating TCs along the monsoon trough was observed. Notably, the above-normal precipitation was not due to the enhanced monsoon westerly over Indochina. Therefore, the 2011 Thai flood was caused by the typical atmospheric circulation pattern for an above-normal precipitation year. It is noteworthy that the effect of sea surface temperature (SST) forcing over the western North Pacific and the Niño-3.4 region on total precipitation during the summer rainy season over Indochina was unclear over the 33-yr period.

Denotes Open Access content.

Corresponding author address: Hiroshi G. Takahashi, Tokyo Metropolitan University and Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, 1-1 Minami-Osawa, Hachioji-shi, Tokyo, 192-0397, Japan. E-mail: hiroshi3@tmu.ac.jp

Abstract

The atmospheric circulation patterns that were responsible for the heavy flooding that occurred in Thailand in 2011 are examined. This paper also investigates the interannual variation in precipitation over Indochina over a 33-yr period from 1979–2011, focusing on the role of westward-propagating tropical cyclones (TCs) over the Asian monsoon region. Cyclonic anomalies and more westward-propagating TCs than expected from the climatology of the area were observed in 2011 along the monsoon trough from the northern Indian subcontinent, the Bay of Bengal, Indochina, and the western North Pacific, which contributed significantly to the 2011 Thai flood. The strength of monsoon westerlies was normal, which implies that the monsoon westerly was not responsible for the seasonal heavy rainfall in 2011. Similar results were also obtained from the 33-yr statistical analysis. The 5-month total precipitation over Indochina covaried interannually with that along the monsoon trough. In addition, above-normal precipitation over Indochina was observed when enhanced cyclonic circulation with more westward-propagating TCs along the monsoon trough was observed. Notably, the above-normal precipitation was not due to the enhanced monsoon westerly over Indochina. Therefore, the 2011 Thai flood was caused by the typical atmospheric circulation pattern for an above-normal precipitation year. It is noteworthy that the effect of sea surface temperature (SST) forcing over the western North Pacific and the Niño-3.4 region on total precipitation during the summer rainy season over Indochina was unclear over the 33-yr period.

Denotes Open Access content.

Corresponding author address: Hiroshi G. Takahashi, Tokyo Metropolitan University and Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, 1-1 Minami-Osawa, Hachioji-shi, Tokyo, 192-0397, Japan. E-mail: hiroshi3@tmu.ac.jp
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