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Bo Sun and Huijun Wang

Abstract

In this study, a Lagrangian particle dispersion model, Flexible Particle (FLEXPART), is employed to simulate the trajectories of global air parcels during 2000–09 with the purpose of revealing the moisture sources of the semiarid grasslands of China, especially on precipitation days. Based on land-cover and precipitation data, two areas of semiarid grasslands are identified: one in North China and one in the Tibetan Plateau. Using the FLEXPART simulation results, air parcels reaching these two target regions are traced back for 10 days to examine their temporal variations in position (longitude, latitude, and altitude) and specific humidity. The moisture sources of these semiarid grasslands are discussed for different precipitation categories. Moreover, the contributions of different moisture sources to the precipitation in the target regions are computed and compared. The results indicate that the moisture released in the target regions is substantially from the Eurasian continent, in both summer and winter. During May–September, the southern and eastern adjacent land areas seem to be the main moisture sources of rainfall in the grasslands of North China, while the Eurasian continent on the north and west tends to be the predominant contributor to the rainfall over the grasslands of the eastern Tibetan Plateau. During October–April, moistures released in both target regions principally originate from the Eurasian continent on the north and west. Overall, although the moisture uptake over oceanic sources is also considerable, most released moisture over the target regions is from the Eurasian continent throughout the year, while little of the contribution of oceanic sources is due to great loss of moisture en route.

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Bo Sun and Huijun Wang

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This study analyzes the interannual and interdecadal variability of spring and summer precipitation over the Three River Source (TRS) region in China using four datasets. A general consistency is revealed among the four datasets with regard to the interannual and interdecadal variability of TRS precipitation during 1979–2015, demonstrating a confidence of the four datasets in representing the precipitation variability over the TRS region. The TRS spring and summer precipitation shows distinct interannual and interdecadal variability, with an overall increasing trend in the spring precipitation and an interdecadal oscillation in the summer precipitation. The regimes associated with the interannual variability of TRS spring and summer precipitation are further investigated. The interannual variability of TRS spring precipitation is essentially modulated by an anomalous easterly water vapor transport (WVT) branch associated with the leading mode of Eurasian spring circulation. El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) may affect the interannual variability of TRS spring precipitation by causing southerly WVT anomalies toward the TRS region. The interannual variability of TRS summer precipitation is essentially modulated by an anomalous southwesterly WVT branch over the TRS region, which is mainly associated with a Eurasian wave train connected with the summer North Atlantic Oscillation. A strong East Asian summer monsoon and an El Niño–decaying summer may also contribute to the southwesterly WVT anomalies over the TRS region.

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Bo Sun and Huijun Wang

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This study aims to identify the distinct characteristics of water vapor transport (WVT) and its role in supplying moisture for widespread snowfall (WS) events in northeastern China (NEC). Fifty WS events in NEC were selected based on cumulative precipitation gauge data taken at 12-h intervals from 1980 to 2009 and a qualified set of criteria. The evolution of WVT during WS events in NEC was analyzed using 6-h ECMWF Interim Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim) data and discussed in regard to WVT paths and water vapor budgets over NEC. The results of this analysis indicate that southerly WVT, which carries moisture over eastern China, its adjacent seas, and the Sea of Japan, has played a key role in supplying water vapor for WS, which is quite different from the climatology of winter WVT. Moreover, the results indicate that there tends to be an 18-h lag between the WVT budget and precipitation, resulting in a great amount of water vapor accumulating over NEC before WS. The amount of preaccumulated water vapor could account for about 47% of the total precipitation, whereas synchronous WVT could only supply a limited amount of moisture that could hardly sustain WS. In addition, the original atmospheric moisture over NEC has likely made a considerable contribution to WS. The lag between the WVT budget and precipitation appears to be an outcome of the cooperation between the atmospheric flow field and the specific humidity field.

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Shantong Sun, Lixin Wu, and Bo Qiu

Abstract

Previous observation and model studies show that the upper-ocean stratification is enhanced under global warming (Capotondi et al.; Cravatte et al.; Deser et al., etc.). The response of the recirculation, which is associated with the western boundary current (WBC) jet extension and significantly increases its transport, to the intensified stratification, is studied in a two-layer quasigeostrophic ocean circulation model. It is found that the barotropic transport of the circulation first increases with stratification but then decreases as a result of saturation of the surface-layer circulation intensity when the stratification exceeds a threshold. PV budget analysis indicates that the saturation is caused by the increased intergyre transport of relative potential vorticity resulting from the intensified variability of the jet location. Both the barotropic instability and bifurcation mechanisms contribute to the intensified variability of the jet location. Because of barotropic instability, eddies are generated in the confluence region of the WBCs and advected eastward, causing the variability of the jet location. With increased stratification, the surface-layer circulation is strengthened and the barotropic instability is intensified. As a result, the surface flow becomes more variable with excessive eddies and intense variability of the jet. With the increasing stratification, three regimes, each marked by its own variation of the jet location, emerge owing to the successive system bifurcations. In the last two regimes, variability of the jet location is further enhanced by frequent switches among the different dynamic states on multidecadal time scales.

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Bo Sun, Huijun Wang, and Botao Zhou

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This study examined the interdecadal variations in the relationship between the East Asian water vapor transport (WVT) and the central and eastern tropical Pacific (CETP) sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in January during 1951–2018, focusing on the meridional WVT over East Asia, which is critical for the East Asian winter precipitation. The results indicate that before the 1980s, an increased southerly WVT over East Asia was generally associated with warm SST anomalies in the CETP during January, whereas, after the mid-1980s, an increased southerly WVT over East Asia was mostly associated with cold SST anomalies in the central tropical Pacific during January. The underlying mechanisms are discussed based on a comparison on the climate anomalies associated with the East Asian meridional WVT between the periods of 1951–79 and 1986–2018. During 1951–79, the meridional WVT over East Asia was mainly modulated by the Pacific–East Asian (PEA) teleconnection, which would induce an anomalous southerly WVT over East Asia corresponding to warm SST anomalies in the CETP. Whereas, during 1986–2018, the connection between the PEA teleconnection and the East Asian meridional WVT was weakened. The connection among the CETP SSTs, the anomalous zonal circulation over the North Pacific, and the East Asian meridional WVT was enhanced. Additionally, the connection among the CETP SSTs, the circumglobal teleconnection in the Northern Hemisphere, and the East Asian meridional WVT was enhanced. The above two enhanced connections opposed the effect of the PEA teleconnection and would induce an anomalous southerly WVT over East Asia corresponding to cold SST anomalies in the central tropical Pacific.

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Botao Zhou, Zunya Wang, Bo Sun, and Xin Hao

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Analyses of observation data from 1961 to 2014 by using the empirical orthogonal function (EOF) method indicate that the primary mode (a monosign pattern) of heavy snowfall over northern China in winter shows evident variations from a negative polarity to a positive polarity in the mid-1990s. Associated with this decadal change, the southward displacement of the polar front jet stream and northward shift of the subtropical jet stream in the upper troposphere are apparent. Accordingly, a negative height anomaly dominates the region from Lake Balkhash to Lake Baikal and a positive height anomaly occupies the midlatitudes of the North Pacific in the middle troposphere. Such anomalous patterns in the middle and high troposphere correspond approximately to the northern mode of the East Asian winter monsoon (EAWM) and may favor the interaction of cold air with moist airflows over northern China, which helps increase local heavy snowfall. Further investigation shows that the shift in the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) from a cold phase to a warm phase in the 1990s may also play a role, through its linkage to the above atmospheric circulations with the aid of a downstream propagation of wave train that emanates from the Atlantic Ocean.

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Bo Sun, Huijun Wang, Botao Zhou, and Hua Li

Abstract

This study introduces a multivariable covariance index (MVCI) to illustrate the synoptic features of mei-yu in the Yangtze River valley (YRV) region, which contains information of three indicators of mei-yu including precipitation, surface relative humidity, and tropospheric vertical motion. The interdecadal variation in the synoptic features of mei-yu during 1961–2016 is investigated using the MVCI. The date of mei-yu peak and the intensity of mei-yu underwent noticeable interdecadal variations over past decades, which are characterized by a delayed (relatively early) mei-yu peak and a relatively large (small) mei-yu intensity during 1985–97 (1961–80 and 2006–16). The mechanisms of these interdecadal variations are further discussed. The interdecadal variation in the date of mei-yu peak is mainly modulated by the meridional water vapor transport over eastern China during June, which may be partially attributed to an influence of the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) on the clockwise gyre over the North Pacific during boreal summer. The interdecadal variation in mei-yu intensity is associated with the interdecadal variation of tropospheric vertical motion over the YRV region during boreal summer, which may be partially attributed to an interaction between the PDO and the large-scale tropical east–west circulation during boreal summer. In addition, the interdecadal variation in the water vapor flux budget and relative humidity over the YRV region also exerted an impact on the interdecadal variation of mei-yu intensity in the YRV region.

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Zhaohui Chen, Lixin Wu, Bo Qiu, Shantong Sun, and Fan Jia

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In this paper, seasonal variation of the South Equatorial Current (SEC) bifurcation off the Madagascar coast in the upper south Indian Ocean (SIO) is investigated based on a new climatology derived from the World Ocean Database and 19-year satellite altimeter observations. The mean bifurcation integrated over the upper thermocline is around 18°S and reaches the southernmost position in June/July and the northernmost position in November/December, with a north–south amplitude of about 1°. It is demonstrated that the linear, reduced gravity, long Rossby model, which works well for the North Equatorial Current (NEC) bifurcation in the North Pacific, is insufficient to reproduce the seasonal cycle and the mean position of the SEC bifurcation off the Madagascar coast. This suggests the importance of Madagascar in regulating the SEC bifurcation. Application of Godfrey’s island rule reveals that compared to the zero Sverdrup transport latitude, the mean SEC bifurcation is shifted poleward by over 0.8° because of the meridional transport of about 5 Sverdrups (Sv; 1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) between Madagascar and Australia. A time-dependent linear model that extends the Godfrey’s island rule is adopted to examine the seasonal variation of the SEC bifurcation. This time-dependent island rule model simulates the seasonal SEC bifurcation well both in terms of its mean position and peak seasons. It provides a dynamic framework to clarify the baroclinic adjustment processes involved in the presence of an island.

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Peiran Yang, Zhao Jing, Bingrong Sun, Lixin Wu, Bo Qiu, Ping Chang, and Sanjiv Ramachandran

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Oceanic eddies play a crucial role in transporting heat from the subsurface to surface ocean. However, dynamics responsible for the vertical eddy heat transport Q T have not been systematically understood, especially in the mixed layer of western boundary current extensions characterized by the coincidence of strong eddy activities and air–sea interactions. In this paper, the winter (December–March) Q T in the Kuroshio Extension is simulated using a 1-km regional ocean model. An omega equation based on the geostrophic momentum approximation and generalized to include the viscous and diabatic effects is derived and used to decompose the contribution of Q T from different dynamics. The simulated Q T exhibits a pronounced positive peak around the center of the mixed layer (~60 m). The value of Q T there exhibits multi-time-scale variations with irregularly occurring extreme events superimposed on a slowly varying seasonal cycle. The proposed omega equation shows good skills in reproducing Q T, capturing its spatial and temporal variations. Geostrophic deformation and vertical mixing of momentum are found to be the two major processes generating Q T in the mixed layer with the former and the latter accounting for its seasonal variation and extreme events, respectively. The mixed layer instability and the net effect of frontogenesis/frontolysis contribute comparably to the geostrophic deformation induced Q T. The contribution of Q T from vertical mixing of momentum can be understood on the basis of turbulent thermal wind balance.

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Bo Sun, Huijun Wang, Biwen Wu, Min Xu, Botao Zhou, Huixin Li, and Teng Wang

Abstract

This study investigates the first two leading modes of the interannual variability of frequency of snowfall events (FSE) over China in the winter during 1986–2018. The positive phase of the first leading mode (EOF1) is mainly characterized by positive FSE anomalies in northeastern–northwestern China and negative FSE anomalies in the three-river-source region. In contrast, the positive phase of the second leading mode (EOF2) is mainly characterized by positive FSE anomalies in central-eastern China (CEC). EOF1 is affected by the synoptic-scale wave activity over the midlatitudes of the East Asian continent, where active synoptic-scale wave activity over the midlatitudes may cause increased FSE over northeastern–northwestern China, and vice versa. In a winter of a negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation, an anomalous deep cold low may occur over Siberia, which may induce increased meridional air temperature gradient, increased atmospheric baroclinicity, and hence increased FSE over the midlatitudes of the East Asian continent. The EOF2 is affected by the interaction between anomalous northerly cold advection and anomalous southerly water vapor transport over CEC. The positive phase of EOF2 is associated with negative sea ice anomalies in the Barents Sea–Kara Sea region and negative sea surface temperature anomalies in the central-eastern tropical Pacific. Reduced sea ice in the Barents Sea–Kara Sea during January–February may cause increased northerly cold advection over CEC, while a La Niña–like condition during January may induce southerly water vapor transport anomalies over CEC.

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