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/MOE and School of Atmospheric Science, Nanjing University, Nanjing, and State Key Laboratory of Severe Weather and Joint Center for Atmospheric Radar Research of CMA/NJU, Beijing, China
  • 2 Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, and Center for Advanced Data Assimilation and Predictability Techniques, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA
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Abstract

South China coast suffers frequent heavy rainfall every warm-season. Based on the objective classification method of principle components analysis, the key role of synoptic pattern in determining the heavy rainfall processes occurred over the South China coast in warm season during 2008-2018 is examined in this study. We found heavy rainfall occurs most frequently under three typical synoptic patterns (P1-P3 hereafter) characterized by strong low-level onshore winds. P1 and P3 are featured by 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 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 of south China. Heavy rainfall under P2 usually initiate over the western part of the coastal region in the morning and then propagate towards inland in the afternoon. Overall, the synoptic patterns strongly determine the spatial distribution and diurnal cycle of heavy rainfall over the South China coast. It 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.

Corresponding author address: Kun Zhao, zhaokun@nju.edu.cn

Abstract

South China coast suffers frequent heavy rainfall every warm-season. Based on the objective classification method of principle components analysis, the key role of synoptic pattern in determining the heavy rainfall processes occurred over the South China coast in warm season during 2008-2018 is examined in this study. We found heavy rainfall occurs most frequently under three typical synoptic patterns (P1-P3 hereafter) characterized by strong low-level onshore winds. P1 and P3 are featured by 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 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 of south China. Heavy rainfall under P2 usually initiate over the western part of the coastal region in the morning and then propagate towards inland in the afternoon. Overall, the synoptic patterns strongly determine the spatial distribution and diurnal cycle of heavy rainfall over the South China coast. It 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.

Corresponding author address: Kun Zhao, zhaokun@nju.edu.cn
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