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Bin Wang and Xihua Xu

Abstract

Using climatological pentad mean outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) and European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts analysis winds, the authors show that the Northern Hemisphere summer monsoon displays statistically significant climatological intraseasonal oscillations (CISOs). The extreme phases of CISO characterize monsoon singularities—monsoon events that occur on a fixed pentad with usual regularity, whereas the transitional phases of CISO represent the largest year-to-year monsoon variations.

The CISO results from a phase-locking of transient intraseasonal oscillation to annual cycle. It exhibits a dynamically coherent structure between enhanced convection and low-level convergent (upper-level divergent) cyclonic (anticyclonic) circulation. Its phase propagates primarily northward from the equator to the northern Philippines during early summer (May–July), and westward along 15°N from 170°E to the Bay of Bengal during August and September.

The propagation of CISO links monsoon singularities occurring in different regions. Four CISO cycles are identified from May to October. The first cycle has a peak wet phase in mid-May that starts the monsoon over the South China Sea and Philippines. Its dry phase in late May and early June brings the premonsoon dry weather over the regions of western North Pacific summer monsoon (WNPSM), Meiyu/Baiu, and Indian summer monsoon (ISM). The wet phase of Cycle II peaking in mid-June marks the onsets of WNPSM, continental ISM, and Meiyu, whereas the dry phase in early to mid-July corresponds to the first major breaks in WNPSM and ISM, and the end of Meiyu. The wet phase of Cycle III peaking in mid-August benchmarks the height of WNPSM, which was followed by a conspicuous dry phase propagating westward and causing the second breaks of WNPSM (in early September) and ISM (in mid-September). The wet phase of Cycle IV represents the last active WNPSM and withdrawal of ISM in mid-October.

The relationships among ISM, WNPSM, and East Asian Subtropical Monsoon (EASM) are season dependent. During Cycle II, convective activities in the three monsoon regions are nearly in phase. During Cycle III, however, the convective activities are out of phase between ISM and WNPSM; meanwhile, little linkage exists between WNPSM and EASM. The causes of unstable relationships and the phase propagation of CISO are discussed.

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