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Lixia Zhang and Tianjun Zhou

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.

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Lixia Zhang and Tianjun Zhou

Abstract

By using 55-yr NCEP–NCAR reanalysis data, two dominant interannual variability modes of summer upper-tropospheric (500–200 hPa) temperature over East Asia are identified. The first empirical orthogonal function (EOF1) mode in its positive sign features a monopole cooling anomaly, while the second mode (EOF2) features a meridional dipole mode, with the positive (negative) center located south (north) of 35°N. The EOF1 (EOF2) mode is associated with ENSO developing (decaying) summers. They are the result of dynamical teleconnections remotely induced by ENSO and local moist processes. During the El Niño developing summer, the Indian summer monsoon precipitation decreases and forces the Silk Road teleconnection pattern at 200 hPa, featuring an anomalous cyclone over the East Asian continent. Coupled with the anomalous northerly wind in eastern China at 850 hPa, rainfall over north (south) China is suppressed (enhanced). The anomalous cyclone in the upper troposphere, associated vertical motion, and precipitation contribute to the heat and vorticity balance and maintain the monopole cooling. In the El Niño decaying summer, driven by the combined effects of a local SST anomaly and remote warm SST anomaly forcing from the Indian Ocean, precipitation is reduced over the western Pacific Ocean. Less latent heat is released and forces the Pacific–Japan teleconnection pattern along the East Asian continent, inducing a tripolar rainfall anomaly over East Asia. The tripolar precipitation and vertical motion anomalies and the zonal extended cyclonic anomaly in the upper troposphere provide the heating and momentum flux balance and maintain the temperature anomaly pattern during the ENSO decaying summer.

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Dongdong Peng, Tianjun Zhou, and Lixia Zhang

Abstract

Identifying the origin of moisture is a key process in revealing the formation mechanisms of precipitation, but the moisture sources for central Asia have not been well documented in previous studies. In this work, we employ the Lagrangian model FLEXPART over 2011–19 to address this question. Multiple observational products indicate that the times of dry and wet seasons are opposite for western and eastern central Asia bounded by 75°E. The wet season is November–April (NDJFMA) for western central Asia but May–October (MJJASO) for eastern central Asia, while the opposite is true for the dry season. The main moisture source regions for western central Asia are local regions (with a contribution of 49.11%), western Eurasia (21.47%), and western Asia (11.37%) during MJJASO and local regions (33.92%), western Asia (27.50%), and western Eurasia (17.60%) during NDJFMA. For eastern central Asia, moisture mainly originates from local regions (52.38%), western central Asia (25.22%), and northern Eurasia (9.26%) during MJJASO and western central Asia (30.86%), local regions (30.82%), western Asia (10.31%), and western Eurasia (10.26%) during NDJFMA. The differences in moisture sources between dry and wet seasons mainly occur in local regions and western Asia for western central Asia but in local regions for eastern central Asia. The moisture from northern Eurasia, western Eurasia, and western central Asia is transported into target regions by the westerly and southwesterly winds that are associated with a deep low trough over central Asia. Moisture is transported from western Asia by the anticyclone occurs over North Africa and western Asia in the lower and middle troposphere.

Open access
Wenxia Zhang, Tianjun Zhou, Lixia Zhang, and Liwei Zou

Abstract

An integrated picture of the future changes in the water cycle is provided focusing on the global land monsoon (GLM) region, based on multimodel projections under the representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). We investigate the reservoirs (e.g., precipitable water, soil moisture) and water fluxes (e.g., precipitation P, evaporation E, precipitation minus evaporation PE, and total runoff) of the water cycle. The projected intensification of the water cycle with global warming in the GLM region is reflected in robust increases in annual-mean P (multimodel median response of 0.81% K−1), E (0.57% K−1), PE (1.58% K−1), and total runoff (2.08% K−1). Both surface (−0.83% K−1) and total soil moisture (−0.26% K−1) decrease as a result of increasing evaporative demand. Regionally, the Northern Hemispheric (NH) African, South Asian, and East Asian monsoon regions would experience an intensified water cycle, as measured by the coherent increases in P, PE, and runoff, while the NH American monsoon region would experience a weakened water cycle. Changes in the monthly fields are more remarkable and robust than in the annual mean. An enhanced annual cycle (by ~3%–5% K−1) with a phase delay from the current climate in P, PE, and runoff is projected, featuring an intensified water cycle in the wet season while little changes or slight weakening in the dry season. The increased seasonality and drier soils throughout the year imply increasing flood and drought risks and agricultural yields reduction. Limiting global warming to 1.5°C, the low warming target set by the Paris Agreement, could robustly reduce additional hydrological risks from increased seasonality as compared to higher warming thresholds.

Open access
Shingirai Nangombe, Tianjun Zhou, Lixia Zhang, and Wenxia Zhang
Free access
Lixia Zhang, Peili Wu, Tianjun Zhou, and Chan Xiao

Abstract

Persistent drought is a major meteorological disaster causing vast agricultural damage and long-term regional water crises. Over north China, this type of drought tends to begin in spring and to persist until summer with severe societal impacts. This paper aims to identify the large-scale dynamic drivers of the prolonged spring–summer drought (PSSD) over north China. This analysis has shown that the north China PSSD is associated with a persistent anomalous low-level cyclonic circulation spanning the midlatitude North Pacific from spring to summer with reduced moisture transport to north China, in combination with a tropospheric cooling along the East Asian upper-level westerly jet with dynamically forced anomalous descent above. Seven of the selected eight north China PSSD events occurred when La Niña transitioned to El Niño with a negative North Pacific Oscillation (NPO) phase in the preceding winter. The two key circulation anomalies in spring are set directly by a negative NPO phase generated in the preceding winter. The NPO, in turn, forces an El Niño onset in summer through the so-called seasonal footprinting mechanism. Consequently, sea surface temperature anomalies of El Niño in summer suppress Indian monsoon rainfall, triggering the tropospheric temperature cooling over East Asia through a circumglobal teleconnection along the East Asian upper-level westerly jet. Modeling analysis of the long preindustrial control simulation confirms the above findings. This study demonstrates that ENSO phase transition from La Niña to El Niño is one of the important precursors of north China PSSD.

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Dongdong Peng, Tianjun Zhou, Lixia Zhang, and Bo Wu

Abstract

The ecosystem and societal development over arid Central Asia, the core connecting region of the Silk Road Economic Belt, are highly sensitive to climate change. The results derived from multiobservational datasets show that summer precipitation over Central Asia has significantly increased by 20.78% from 1961 to 2013. It remains unclear whether anthropogenic forcing has contributed to the summer wetting trend or not. In this study, the corresponding physical processes and contributions of anthropogenic forcing are investigated by comparing reanalysis and experiments of the Community Atmosphere Model, version 5.1 (CAM5.1), from the CLIVAR Climate of the Twentieth Century Plus (C20C+) Project. The observed wetting trend is well reproduced in the simulation driven by all radiative forcings (CAM5-All), but poorly reproduced in the simulation with natural forcings only (CAM5-Nat), confirming the important role of human contribution in the observed wetting trend. Moisture budget analysis shows that the observed wetting trend is dominated by the increasing vertical moisture advection term and results from enhanced vertical motion over nearly all of Central Asia. The observed contributions of moisture budget components to the wetting trend are only captured by CAM5-All experiments. The dynamic contribution is determined by the warm advection anomalies in association with a human-induced meridional uneven warm pattern. Human-induced warming increases the specific humidity over all of Central Asia, increasing (decreasing) the precipitation over the climatological ascent (descent) region in eastern (western) Central Asia.

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Lixia Zhang, Tianjun Zhou, Peili Wu, and Xiaolong Chen

Abstract

Any skillful prediction is of great benefit to North China, a region that is densely populated and greatly impacted by droughts. This paper reports potential predictability of North China summer drought 1 month ahead based on hindcasts for 1961–2005 from the “ENSEMBLES” project. Correlation scores of the standardized precipitation–evapotranspiration index and standardized precipitation index reach 0.49 and 0.39, respectively. The lower-level northwestern Pacific cyclonic circulation anomaly (NWPCCA) and East Asian upper-tropospheric temperature (UTT) cooling are the crucial circulations with regard to summer drought. Two sources of predictability are identified: 1) Pacific–Japan and Silk Road teleconnections forced by well-established eastern Pacific Ocean El Niño sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTA) in summer, when the two key circulations are both well predicted because of a good prediction of enhanced equatorial central Pacific (CP) rainfall and Indian rainfall deficit, and 2) the subtropical atmosphere–ocean coupling associated with CP El Niño developing, when the skill mainly arises from the reasonable prediction of NWPCCA. In observations, the NWPCCA persists from the preceding spring to summer through a wind–evaporation–SST feedback related to the Pacific meridional mode (PMM). In predictions, the persistence of the NWPCCA is mainly forced by the enhanced convection over the subtropical central North Pacific due to the persistence of the PMM-related meridional SSTA gradient over the CP. This predicted SSTA suppresses the equatorial Pacific rainfall, contributing to low prediction skill for the East Asian UTT cooling. This study demonstrates the importance of extratropical signals from the preceding season in North China summer drought prediction.

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Qing Yang, Zhuguo Ma, Peili Wu, Nicholas P. Klingaman, and Lixia Zhang

Abstract

This paper reports a consistent seesaw relationship between interdecadal precipitation variability over North China and the Southwest United States, which can be found in observations and simulations with several models. Idealized model simulations suggest the seesaw could be mainly driven by the interdecadal Pacific oscillation (IPO), through a large-scale circulation anomaly occupying the entire northern North Pacific, while the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) contributes oppositely and less. Modulation of precipitation by the IPO tends to be intensified when the AMO is in the opposite phase, but weakened when the AMO is in the same phase. The warm IPO phase is associated with an anomalous cyclone over the northern North Pacific; consequently, anomalous southwesterly winds bring more moisture and rainfall to the Southwest United States, while northwesterly wind anomalies prevail over North China with negative rainfall anomalies. The east–west seesaw of rainfall anomalies reverses sign when the circulation anomaly becomes anticyclonic during the cold IPO phase. The IPO-related tropical SST anomalies affect the meridional temperature gradient over the North Pacific and adjacent regions and the mean meridional circulation. In the northern North Pacific, the atmospheric response to IPO forcing imposes an equivalent barotropic structure throughout the troposphere. An important implication from this study is the potential predictability of drought-related water stresses over these arid and semiarid regions, with the progress of our understanding and prediction of the IPO and AMO.

Open access
Lixia Zhang, Tianjun Zhou, Xiaolong Chen, Peili Wu, Nikolaos Christidis, and Fraser C. Lott
Free access