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Decadal Modulation of Precipitation Patterns over Eastern China by Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

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  • 1 CAS Key Laboratory of Regional Climate–Environment Research for Temperate East Asia, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 3 Meteorology Program, Department of Geography and Geology, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • 4 Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
  • 5 Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, United Kingdom
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Abstract

Annual precipitation anomalies over eastern China are characterized by a north–south dipole pattern, referred to as the “southern flooding and northern drought” pattern (SF/ND), fluctuating on decadal time scales. Previous research has suggested possible links with oceanic forcing, but the underlying physical mechanisms by which sea surface temperature (SST) variability impacts the dipole pattern remains unclear. Idealized atmospheric general circulation model experiments conducted by the U.S. CLIVAR Drought Working Group are used to investigate the role of historical SST anomalies associated with Pacific El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-like and the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) patterns in this dipole pattern. The results show that the Pacific SST pattern plays a dominant role in driving the decadal variability of this dipole pattern and the associated atmospheric circulation anomalies, whereas the Atlantic SST pattern contributes to a much lesser degree. The direct atmospheric response to the Pacific SST pattern is a large-scale cyclonic or anticyclonic circulation anomaly in the lower troposphere occupying the entire northern North Pacific. During the warm phase of the Pacific SST pattern, it is cyclonic with northwesterly wind anomalies over northern China pushing the monsoon front to the south and consequently SF/ND. During the cold phase of the Pacific SST pattern, the circulation anomaly reverses with southeasterly winds over northern China allowing the monsoon front and the associated rainband to migrate northward, resulting in southern drought and northern flooding. The Atlantic SST pattern plays a supplementary role, enhancing the dipole pattern when the Pacific SST and Atlantic SST patterns are in opposite phases and weakening it when the phases are the same.

Denotes content that is immediately available upon publication as open access.

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0793.s1.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society.

Corresponding author: Dr. Zhuguo Ma, mazg@tea.ac.cn

Abstract

Annual precipitation anomalies over eastern China are characterized by a north–south dipole pattern, referred to as the “southern flooding and northern drought” pattern (SF/ND), fluctuating on decadal time scales. Previous research has suggested possible links with oceanic forcing, but the underlying physical mechanisms by which sea surface temperature (SST) variability impacts the dipole pattern remains unclear. Idealized atmospheric general circulation model experiments conducted by the U.S. CLIVAR Drought Working Group are used to investigate the role of historical SST anomalies associated with Pacific El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-like and the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) patterns in this dipole pattern. The results show that the Pacific SST pattern plays a dominant role in driving the decadal variability of this dipole pattern and the associated atmospheric circulation anomalies, whereas the Atlantic SST pattern contributes to a much lesser degree. The direct atmospheric response to the Pacific SST pattern is a large-scale cyclonic or anticyclonic circulation anomaly in the lower troposphere occupying the entire northern North Pacific. During the warm phase of the Pacific SST pattern, it is cyclonic with northwesterly wind anomalies over northern China pushing the monsoon front to the south and consequently SF/ND. During the cold phase of the Pacific SST pattern, the circulation anomaly reverses with southeasterly winds over northern China allowing the monsoon front and the associated rainband to migrate northward, resulting in southern drought and northern flooding. The Atlantic SST pattern plays a supplementary role, enhancing the dipole pattern when the Pacific SST and Atlantic SST patterns are in opposite phases and weakening it when the phases are the same.

Denotes content that is immediately available upon publication as open access.

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0793.s1.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society.

Corresponding author: Dr. Zhuguo Ma, mazg@tea.ac.cn

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