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The Crucial Role of Synoptic Pattern in Determining the Spatial Distribution and Diurnal Cycle of Heavy Rainfall over the South China Coast

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  • 1 Key Laboratory of Mesoscale Severe Weather/Ministry of Education and School of Atmospheric Science, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China
  • 2 State Key Laboratory of Severe Weather and Joint Center for Atmospheric Radar Research of the China Meteorological Administration and Nanjing University, Beijing, China
  • 3 Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, and Center for Advanced Data Assimilation and Predictability Techniques, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
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Abstract

The South China coast suffers frequent heavy rainfall every warm season. Based on the objective classification method of principal components analysis, the key role of the synoptic pattern in determining the heavy rainfall processes that occurred over the South China coast in the warm season during 2008–18 is examined in this study. We found that heavy rainfall occurs most frequently under three typical synoptic patterns (P1–P3 hereafter) characterized by strong low-level onshore winds. P1 and P3 feature a prevailing southwesterly monsoonal flow in the lower troposphere, with heavy rainfall frequently occurring over the inland windward region in the afternoon associated with the orographic lifting and solar heating. The onshore wind of P3 is stronger than P1 as the western Pacific subtropical high extends more westward to 122°E, which induces stronger low-level convergence along the coastline than P1 when the ageostrophic wind veers from the offshore to onshore direction in the early morning. Hence, a secondary early morning rainfall peak can be found along the coastline. P2 is characterized by a low-level vortex located over the southwest portion of south China. Heavy rainfall under P2 usually initiates over the western part of the coastal region in the morning and then propagates inland in the afternoon. Overall, the synoptic patterns strongly determine the spatial distribution and diurnal cycle of heavy rainfall over the South China coast. This heavy rainfall is closely related to the diurnally varying low-level onshore winds rather than the low-level jets, as well as the different interactions between the low-level onshore winds and the local orography, coastline, and land–sea breeze circulations under different synoptic patterns.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding authors: Kun Zhao, zhaokun@nju.edu.cn; Xingchao Chen, xzc55@psu.edu

Abstract

The South China coast suffers frequent heavy rainfall every warm season. Based on the objective classification method of principal components analysis, the key role of the synoptic pattern in determining the heavy rainfall processes that occurred over the South China coast in the warm season during 2008–18 is examined in this study. We found that heavy rainfall occurs most frequently under three typical synoptic patterns (P1–P3 hereafter) characterized by strong low-level onshore winds. P1 and P3 feature a prevailing southwesterly monsoonal flow in the lower troposphere, with heavy rainfall frequently occurring over the inland windward region in the afternoon associated with the orographic lifting and solar heating. The onshore wind of P3 is stronger than P1 as the western Pacific subtropical high extends more westward to 122°E, which induces stronger low-level convergence along the coastline than P1 when the ageostrophic wind veers from the offshore to onshore direction in the early morning. Hence, a secondary early morning rainfall peak can be found along the coastline. P2 is characterized by a low-level vortex located over the southwest portion of south China. Heavy rainfall under P2 usually initiates over the western part of the coastal region in the morning and then propagates inland in the afternoon. Overall, the synoptic patterns strongly determine the spatial distribution and diurnal cycle of heavy rainfall over the South China coast. This heavy rainfall is closely related to the diurnally varying low-level onshore winds rather than the low-level jets, as well as the different interactions between the low-level onshore winds and the local orography, coastline, and land–sea breeze circulations under different synoptic patterns.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding authors: Kun Zhao, zhaokun@nju.edu.cn; Xingchao Chen, xzc55@psu.edu
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