Precipitation Fluctuation over Semiarid Region in Northern China and the Relationship with El Niño/Southern Oscillation

Wei-Chyung Wang Atmospheric and Environmental Research Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Kerang Li Institute of Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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Abstract

In recent years the semiarid region of northern China, which has total annual precipitation between 200 and 500 mm, has shown signs of severe desertification. Intensive theoretical and observational studies are currently underway to examine the climate changes and other contributing factors. In this study, we used the 1951–86 monthly precipitation measurements in this region to study their fluctuations and relationship with the El Niño/Southern Oscillation. Three main features are identified: 1) a 2–3 year quasi-periodic fluctuation, 2) a tendency for rainfall deficiency for the whole region during ENSO years, and 3) a significant correlation between the precipitation fluctuation in the southern part of this region and Southern Oscillation index, with the former lagging the latter by 2–5 months. These features are also evident from analysis of the proxy data during the last hundred years. Discussions on the possible link between the precipitation fluctuation, the summer monsoon, the western Pacific subtropical high, and ENSO are also presented.

Abstract

In recent years the semiarid region of northern China, which has total annual precipitation between 200 and 500 mm, has shown signs of severe desertification. Intensive theoretical and observational studies are currently underway to examine the climate changes and other contributing factors. In this study, we used the 1951–86 monthly precipitation measurements in this region to study their fluctuations and relationship with the El Niño/Southern Oscillation. Three main features are identified: 1) a 2–3 year quasi-periodic fluctuation, 2) a tendency for rainfall deficiency for the whole region during ENSO years, and 3) a significant correlation between the precipitation fluctuation in the southern part of this region and Southern Oscillation index, with the former lagging the latter by 2–5 months. These features are also evident from analysis of the proxy data during the last hundred years. Discussions on the possible link between the precipitation fluctuation, the summer monsoon, the western Pacific subtropical high, and ENSO are also presented.

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