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Drought over East Asia: A Review

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  • 1 LASG, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, and Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological Disasters, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, China
  • | 2 LASG, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Joint Center for Global Change Studies, Beijing, China
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Abstract

East Asia is greatly impacted by drought. North and southwest China are the regions with the highest drought frequency and maximum duration. At the interannual time scale, drought in the eastern part of East Asia is mainly dominated by two teleconnection patterns (i.e., the Pacific–Japan and Silk Road teleconnections). The former is forced by SST anomalies in the western North Pacific and the tropical Indian Ocean during El Niño decaying year summers. The precipitation anomaly features a meridional tripolar or sandwich pattern. The latter is forced by Indian monsoon heating and is a propagation of stationary Rossby waves along the Asian jet in the upper troposphere. It can significantly influence the precipitation over north China. Regarding the long-term trend, there exists an increasing drought trend over central parts of northern China and a decreasing tendency over northwestern China from the 1950s to the present. The increased drought in north China results from a weakened tendency of summer monsoons, which is mainly driven by the phase transition of the Pacific decadal oscillation. East Asian summer precipitation is poorly simulated and predicted by current state-of-the-art climate models. Encouragingly, the predictability of atmospheric circulation is high because of the forcing of ENSO and the associated teleconnection patterns. Under the SRES A1B scenario and doubled CO2 simulations, most climate models project an increasing drought frequency and intensity over southeastern Asia. Nevertheless, uncertainties exist in the projections as a result of the selection of climate models and the choice of drought index.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Tianjun Zhou, LASG, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, P.O. Box 9804, Beijing 100029, China. E-mail: zhoutj@lasg.iap.ac.cn

This article is included in the GDIS Drought Worldwide Special Collection.

Abstract

East Asia is greatly impacted by drought. North and southwest China are the regions with the highest drought frequency and maximum duration. At the interannual time scale, drought in the eastern part of East Asia is mainly dominated by two teleconnection patterns (i.e., the Pacific–Japan and Silk Road teleconnections). The former is forced by SST anomalies in the western North Pacific and the tropical Indian Ocean during El Niño decaying year summers. The precipitation anomaly features a meridional tripolar or sandwich pattern. The latter is forced by Indian monsoon heating and is a propagation of stationary Rossby waves along the Asian jet in the upper troposphere. It can significantly influence the precipitation over north China. Regarding the long-term trend, there exists an increasing drought trend over central parts of northern China and a decreasing tendency over northwestern China from the 1950s to the present. The increased drought in north China results from a weakened tendency of summer monsoons, which is mainly driven by the phase transition of the Pacific decadal oscillation. East Asian summer precipitation is poorly simulated and predicted by current state-of-the-art climate models. Encouragingly, the predictability of atmospheric circulation is high because of the forcing of ENSO and the associated teleconnection patterns. Under the SRES A1B scenario and doubled CO2 simulations, most climate models project an increasing drought frequency and intensity over southeastern Asia. Nevertheless, uncertainties exist in the projections as a result of the selection of climate models and the choice of drought index.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Tianjun Zhou, LASG, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, P.O. Box 9804, Beijing 100029, China. E-mail: zhoutj@lasg.iap.ac.cn

This article is included in the GDIS Drought Worldwide Special Collection.

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