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Rucong Yu
and
Tianjun Zhou

Abstract

A significant interdecadal cooling with vivid seasonality and three-dimensional (3D) structure is first revealed in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere over East Asia. A robust upper-tropospheric cooling appears in March and has two peaks in April and August, but in June, a moderate upper-tropospheric warming interrupts the cooling, while strong cooling occurs in the lower stratosphere. The seasonally dependent upper-tropospheric cooling leads to a clear seasonality of interdecadal changes in the atmospheric general circulation and precipitation against their normal seasonal cycle over East Asia. In March, precipitation over southern China (south of 26°N) has increased in accordance with the strong upper-tropospheric cooling occurring in northeast Asia. In April and May, following the southward extension and intensification of the upper-tropospheric cooling, the normal seasonal march of the monsoon rainband has been interrupted, resulting in a drying band to the south of the Yangtze River valley in late spring. In June, the moderate upper-tropospheric warming and strong lower-stratospheric cooling over northeast Asia has suddenly enhanced the northward migration of the rainband and resulted in an increase of precipitation in the mid–lower reaches of the Yangtze River and farther north. During July and August, the return of upper-tropospheric cooling has weakened the northward progression of southerly monsoon winds, resulting in a mid–lower Yellow River valley (34°–40°N) drought and excessive rain in the Yangtze River valley. The change of surface temperature is well correlated with the change in precipitation, especially in the spring. The surface cooling is generally collocated with excessive rain, while the warming is generally collocated with droughts. Possible causes for the robust interdecadal change are discussed, and stratosphere–troposphere interaction is suggested to play a crucial role in seasonally dependent 3D atmospheric cooling over East Asia.

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Tianjun Zhou
and
Rucong Yu

Abstract

This paper examines variations of the surface air temperature (SAT) over China and the globe in the twentieth century simulated by 19 coupled climate models driven by historical natural and anthropogenic forcings. Most models perform well in simulating both the global and the Northern Hemispheric mean SAT evolutions of the twentieth century. The inclusion of natural forcings improves the simulation, in particular for the first half of the century. The reproducibility of the SAT averaged over China is lower than that of the global and hemispheric averages, but it is still acceptable. The contribution of natural forcings to the SAT over China in the first half of the century is not as robust as that to the global and hemispheric averages. No model could successfully produce the reconstructed warming over China in the 1920s. The prescribed natural and anthropogenic forcings in the coupled climate models mainly produce the warming trends and the decadal- to interdecadal-scale SAT variations with poor performances at shorter time scales. The prominent warming trend in the last half of the century over China and its acceleration in recent decades are weakly simulated. There are discrepancies between the simulated and observed regional features of the SAT trend over China. Few models could produce the summertime cooling over the middle part of eastern China (27°–36°N), while two models acceptably produce the meridional gradients of the wintertime warming trends, with north China experiencing larger warming. Limitations of the current state-of-the-art coupled climate models in simulating spatial patterns of the twentieth-century SAT over China cast a shadow upon their capability toward projecting credible geographical distributions of future climate change through Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenario simulations.

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Chao He
and
Tianjun Zhou

Abstract

The subtropical North Pacific and North Atlantic are controlled by basin-scale anticyclones in boreal summer. Based on a novel metric regarding the strengths of the rotational and the divergent circulation of anticyclones, we investigated the possible future responses in the intensity of these two subtropical anticyclones to global warming. While the North Atlantic subtropical anticyclone (NASA) is projected to strengthen, the North Pacific subtropical anticyclone (NPSA) is projected to weaken, in terms of both the rotational and the divergent circulation. The distinct responses of the NPSA and NASA are corroborated by the models participating in the fifth and sixth phases of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP), under both intermediate and high emission scenarios. We further investigated the possible mechanism for their distinct responses by decomposing the effect of greenhouse gas forcing into the direct effect of increased CO2 concentration and the indirect effect through sea surface temperature (SST). The intensified NASA results from the CO2 direct forcing while the weakened NPSA is dominated by the SST warming. The CO2 direct forcing enhances the NASA by increasing land–ocean thermal contrast anchored by the largest subtropical continental area, the Eurasian–African continent. Both the uniform SST warming and the change in SST pattern act to weaken the NPSA by increasing the latent heating over the subtropical North Pacific basin, as suggested by atmospheric component model simulations. The distinct responses of the NPSA and the NASA may lead to zonal asymmetry of the subtropical climate change.

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Jie Jiang
and
Tianjun Zhou

Abstract

Multidecadal variations in the global land monsoon were observed during the twentieth century, with an overall increasing trend from 1901 to 1955 that was followed by a decreasing trend up to 1990, but the mechanisms governing the above changes remain inconclusive. Based on the outputs of two atmospheric general circulation models (AGCMs) forced by historical sea surface temperature (SST) covering the twentieth century, supplemented with AGCM simulations forced by idealized SST anomalies representing different conditions of the North Atlantic and tropical Pacific, evidence shows that the observed changes can be partly reproduced, particularly over the Northern Hemisphere summer monsoon (NHSM) domain, demonstrating the modulation of decadal SST changes on the long-term variations in monsoon precipitation. Moisture budget analysis is performed to understand the interdecadal changes in monsoon precipitation, and the dynamic term associated with atmospheric circulation changes is found to be prominent, while the contribution of the thermodynamic term associated with humidity changes can lead to coincident wetting over the NHSM domain. The increase (decrease) in NHSM land precipitation during 1901–55 (1956–90) is associated with the strengthening (weakening) of NHSM circulation and Walker circulation. The multidecadal scale changes in atmospheric circulation are driven by SST anomalies over the North Atlantic and the Pacific. A warmer North Atlantic together with a colder eastern tropical Pacific and a warmer western subtropical Pacific can lead to a strengthened meridional gradient in mid-to-upper-tropospheric thickness and strengthened trade winds, which transport more water vapor into monsoon regions, leading to an increase in monsoon precipitation.

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Fengfei Song
and
Tianjun Zhou

Abstract

This study investigates the role of internal variability in modulating the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM)–ENSO relationship using Twentieth-Century Reanalysis (20CR) data and simulations from phase 5 of CMIP (CMIP5). Analysis of 20CR data reveals an unstable EASM–ENSO relationship during the twentieth century. During the high-correlation periods of 1892–1912 and 1979–99, an evident western Pacific anticyclone (WPAC) and dipole sea level pressure (SLP) pattern are present in the decaying El Niño summer, accompanied by Indian Ocean warming and a tropospheric temperature Matsuno–Gill pattern. However, these are weaker or absent during low-correlation periods (1914–34 and 1958–78). After removing the external forcings based on historical simulations from 15 CMIP5 models, all the above features remain almost unchanged, suggesting the crucial role of internal variability. In a 501-yr preindustrial control (piControl) simulation without external forcing variation from CCSM4, the EASM–ENSO relationship also shows significant decadal variation, with a magnitude comparable to the 20CR data. The analysis demonstrates that the EASM–ENSO relationship’s variation is modulated by the interdecadal Pacific oscillation (IPO). Compared to negative IPO phases, the warmer East China Sea in positive IPO phases weakens the western North Pacific subtropical high (WNPSH), inducing more precipitation. Thus, the Kelvin wave–induced interannual divergence suppresses more mean-state precipitation and leads to a stronger WPAC. Hence, the IPO modulates the EASM–ENSO relationship through the WNPSH, which is evident in both 20CR and the piControl simulation.

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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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Shuangmei Ma
and
Tianjun Zhou

Abstract

In this study, the zonal mass streamfunction Ψ, which depicts intuitively the tropical Pacific Walker circulation (PWC) structure characterized by an enclosed and clockwise rotation cell in the zonal–vertical section over the equatorial Pacific, was used to study the changes of PWC spatial structure during 1979–2012. To examine the robustness of changes in PWC characteristics, the linear trends of PWC were evaluated and compared among the current seven sets of reanalysis data, along with a comparison to the trends of surface climate variables. The spatial pattern of Ψ trend exhibited a strengthening and westward-shifting trend of PWC in all reanalysis datasets, with the significantly positive Ψ dominating the western Pacific and negative Ψ controlling the eastern Pacific. This kind of change is physically in agreement with the changes of the sea level pressure (SLP), surface winds, and precipitation derived from both the reanalyses and independent observations. Quantitative analyses of the changes in the PWC intensity and western edge, defined based on the zonal mass streamfunction, also revealed a robust strengthening and westward-shifting trend among all reanalysis datasets, with a trend of 15.08% decade−1 and 3.70° longitude decade−1 in the ensemble mean of seven sets of reanalysis data, with the strongest (weakest) intensification of 17.53% decade−1 (7.96% decade−1) in the Twentieth Century Reanalysis (NCEP-2) and largest (smallest) westward shift of −4.68° longitude decade−1 (−2.55° longitude decade−1) in JRA-55 (JRA-25). In response to the recent observed La Niña–like anomalous SST forcing, the ensemble simulations from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), with 26 models in the ensemble, reasonably reproduced the observed strengthening and westward-shifting trend of PWC, implying the dominant forcing of the La Niña–like SST anomalies to the recent PWC change.

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Wenxia Zhang
and
Tianjun Zhou

Abstract

The global land monsoon region, with substantial monsoon rainfall and hence freshwater resources, is home to nearly two-thirds of the world’s population. However, it is overwhelmed by extreme precipitation, which is more intense than that on the rest of the land. Whether extreme precipitation has changed significantly, particularly in association with global warming, remains unclear for this region. This study investigates the presence of monotonic trends in extreme precipitation and its association with global warming over the past century over the global land monsoon regions, by employing the most comprehensive, long-running, and high-quality observational extreme precipitation records currently available. Based on a total of 5066 stations with at least 50 years of records, we found significant increases in the annual maximum daily precipitation and associations with global warming in regional monsoon domains, including the southern part of the South African monsoon region, the South Asian monsoon region (dominated by India), the North American monsoon region, and the eastern part of the South American monsoon region during the period of 1901–2010, with responses to global warming of ~10.4%–14.2% K−1, 7.9%–8.3% K−1, 6.4%–10.8% K−1, and 15.1%–24.8% K−1, respectively. For the global monsoon region as a whole, significant increases in extreme precipitation and associations with global warming are also identified, but with limited spatial coverage. The qualitative results on the significance of the changes on the regional scale are generally robust against different time periods, record lengths of stations, and datasets used. The uncertainty in the quantitative results arising from limited spatial and temporal coverages and use of different datasets deserves attention.

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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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Liwei Zou
and
Tianjun Zhou

Abstract

A flexible regional ocean–atmosphere–land system coupled model [Flexible Regional Ocean Atmosphere Land System (FROALS)] was developed through the Ocean Atmosphere Sea Ice Soil, version 3 (OASIS3), coupler to improve the simulation of the interannual variability of the western North Pacific summer monsoon (WNPSM). The regionally coupled model consists of a regional atmospheric model, the Regional Climate Model, version 3 (RegCM3), and a global climate ocean model, the National Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics (LASG)/Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP) Climate Ocean Model (LICOM). The impacts of local air–sea interaction on the simulation of the interannual variability of the WNPSM are investigated through regionally ocean–atmosphere coupled and uncoupled simulations, with a focus on El Niño’s decaying summer. Compared with the uncoupled simulation, the regionally coupled simulation exhibits improvements in both the climatology and the interannual variability of rainfall over the WNP. In El Niño’s decaying summer, the WNP is dominated by an anomalous anticyclone, less rainfall, and enhanced subsidence, which lead to increases in the downward shortwave radiation flux, thereby warming sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies. Thus, the ocean appears as a slave to atmospheric forcing. In the uncoupled simulation, however, the atmosphere is a slave to oceanic SST forcing, with the warm SST anomalies located east of the Philippines unrealistically producing excessive rainfall. In the regionally coupled run, the unrealistic positive rainfall anomalies and the associated atmospheric circulations east of the Philippines are significantly improved, highlighting the importance of air–sea coupling in the simulation of the interannual variability of the WNPSM. One limitation of the model is that the anomalous anticyclone over the WNP is weaker than the observations in both the regionally coupled and the uncoupled simulations. This results from the weaker simulated climatological summer rainfall intensity over the monsoon trough.

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