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## 2011 Vol. 28, No. 2

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2011, 28(2): 246-256. doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-0069-1
Abstract:
The most severe snowstorm and freezing-rain event in the past 50 years hit central and southern China in January 2008. One of the main reasons for the anomalous climate event was the occurrence of atmospheric circulation anomalies over middle and high latitudes, particularly the persistent blocking that occurred over the Ural Mountains. Along with atmospheric anomalies, a strong La Nina event in the Pacific and warm sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTAs) in the North Atlantic were the most significant in the lower boundary. Since a brief analysis suggests that La Nina exerts no significant impact on the Urals, the key point of focus in this study is on the role of the warmer SSTAs in the North Atlantic. Based on an observational composite, North Atlantic SSTAs pattern when the height anomaly over the Urals is strongly positive is found similar to that in January 2008, but no significant SSTAs occurred elsewhere, such as the Pacific. Using an atmospheric general circulation model, ECHAM5, the impact of North Atlantic SSTAs on the extratropical atmosphere circulation in the event was investigated. The results show that the warm SSTAs strengthened the blocking high over the Urals, through anomalous transient eddies. The consistency between the study model and the observational composite indicates that the warm SSTAs in the North Atlantic were indeed an important factor in the formation of the snowstorm disaster of January 2008.
2011, 28(2): 257-268. doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-9225-x
Abstract:
Using the latest daily observational rainfall datasets for the period 1961--2008, the present study investigates the interannual variability of June--September (JJAS) mean rainfall in northern China. The regional characteristics of JJAS mean rainfall are revealed by a rotated empirical orthogonal function (REOF) analysis. The analysis identifies three regions of large interannual variability of JJAS rainfall: North China (NC), Northeast China (NEC), and the Taklimakan Desert in Northwest China (TDNWC). Summer rainfall over NC is shown to have displayed a remarkable dry period from the late 1990s; while over NEC, decadal-scale variation with a significant decreasing trend in the last two decades is found, and over TDNWC, evidence of large interannual variability is revealed. Results also show that the interannual variability of JJAS rainfall in northern China is closely associated with the Northern Hemisphere circumglobal teleconnection (CGT). Correlation coefficients between the CGT index and regional-averaged JJAS mean rainfall over NC and NEC were calculated, revealing values of up to 0.50 and 0.53, respectively, both of which exceeded the 99% confidence level.
2011, 28(2): 269-283. doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-0006-3
Abstract:
Recent trends in seasonal cycles in China are analyzed, based on a homogenized dataset of daily temperatures at 541 stations during the period 1960--2008. Several indices are defined for describing the key features of a seasonal cycle, including local winter/summer (LW/LS) periods and local spring/autumn phase (LSP/LAP). The Ensemble Empirical Mode Decomposition method is applied to determine the indices for each year. The LW period was found to have shortened by 2--6 d (10 yr)-1, mainly due to an earlier end to winter conditions, with the LW mean temperature having increased by 0.2oC--0.4oC (10 yr)-1, over almost all of China. Records of the most severe climate extremes changed less than more typical winter conditions did. The LS period was found to have lengthened by 2--4 d (10 yr)-1, due to progressively earlier onsets and delayed end dates of the locally defined hot period. The LS mean temperature increased by 0.1oC--0.2oC (10 yr)-1 in most of China, except for a region in southern China centered on the mid-lower reaches of the Yangtze River. In contrast to the winter cases, the warming trend in summer was more prominent in the most extreme records than in those of more typical summer conditions. The LSP was found to have advanced significantly by about 2 d (10 yr)-1 in most of China. Changes in the autumn phase were less prominent. Relatively rapid changes happened in the 1980s for most of the regional mean indices dealing with winter and in the 1990s for those dealing with summer.
2011, 28(2): 284-296. doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-9221-1
Abstract:
Climatic changes in the onset of spring in northern China associated with changes in the annual cycle and with a recent warming trend were quantified using a recently developed adaptive data analysis tool, the Ensemble Empirical Mode Decomposition. The study was based on a homogenized daily surface air temperature (SAT) dataset for the period 1955--2003. The annual cycle here is referred to as a refined modulated annual cycle (MAC). The results show that spring at Beijing has arrived significantly earlier by about 2.98 d (10 yr)-1, of which about 1.85 d (10 yr)-1 is due to changes in the annual cycle and 1.13 d (10 yr)-1 due to the long-term warming trend. Variations in the MAC component explain about 92.5% of the total variance in the Beijing daily SAT series and could cause as much as a 20-day shift in the onset of spring from one year to another. The onset of spring has been advancing all over northern China, but more significant in the east than in the west part of the region. These differences are somehow unexplainable by the zonal pattern of the warming trend over the whole region, but can be explained by opposite changes in the spring phase of the MAC, i.e. advancing in the east while delaying in the west. In the east of northern China, the change in the spring phase of MAC explains 40%--60% of the spring onset trend and is attributable to a weakening Asian winter monsoon. The average sea level pressure in Siberia (55o--80oN, 50o--110oE), an index of the strength of the winter monsoon, could serve as a potential short-term predictor for the onset of spring in the east of northern China.
2011, 28(2): 297-309. doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-9242-9
Abstract:
Trends in the frequencies of four temperature extremes (the occurrence of warm days, cold days, warm nights and cold nights) with respect to a modulated annual cycle (MAC), and those associated exclusively with weather-intraseasonal fluctuations (WIF) in eastern China were investigated based on an updated homogenized daily maximum and minimum temperature dataset for 1960--2008. The Ensemble Empirical Mode Decomposition (EEMD) method was used to isolate the WIF, MAC, and longer-term components from the temperature series. The annual, winter and summer occurrences of warm (cold) nights were found to have increased (decreased) significantly almost everywhere, while those of warm (cold) days have increased (decreased) in northern China (north of 40o). However, the four temperature extremes associated exclusively with WIF for winter have decreased almost everywhere, while those for summer have decreased in the north but increased in the south. These characteristics agree with changes in the amplitude of WIF. In particular, winter WIF of maximum temperature tended to weaken almost everywhere, especially in eastern coastal areas (by 10%--20%); summer WIF tended to intensify in southern China by 10%--20%. It is notable that in northern China, the occurrence of warm days has increased, even where that associated with WIF has decreased significantly. This suggests that the recent increasing frequency of warm extremes is due to a considerable rise in the mean temperature level, which surpasses the effect of the weakening weather fluctuations in northern China.
2011, 28(2): 310-321. doi: 10.1007/s00376-009-9239-4
[Abstract](1076) [PDF 1168KB](1185)
Abstract:
The spatiotemporal variations of the site and regional droughts in China during 1960--2009 were analyzed by applying a daily composite-drought index (CDI) to 722 stations in mainland China. Droughts frequently happened in a zone extended from Southwest China to the Yellow River, North China, and the southwestern part of Northeast China, with two centers of high frequency in North China and Southwest China. In Southwest and South China, droughts tend to happen during the winter. In North China and along the Yellow River, droughts mainly occur during the winter and during May--June. During the past 50 years, the geographical distribution of site drought events showed high frequencies (0.9--1.3 times per year) in the upper Yellow River basin and North China, comparing with moderate frequencies (0.6--0.9 times per year) in Southwest China and the southwestern part of Northeast China and with lower frequencies over the middle and lower Yangtze River basin. And the frequencies increased over mainland China except for the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. A regional drought (RD) event is a widespread and persistent event that covers at least five adjacent sites and lasts for at least 10 days. There were 252 RD events in the past 50 years---five times per year. Most RD events lasted for <100 days and covered <100 stations, but the longest and largest RD event lasted for 307 days from 6 September 1998 to 9 July 1999 and covered 327 stations from North to Southwest China.
2011, 28(2): 322-337. doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-9236-7
Abstract:
Daily maximum/minimum temperatures and relative humidity records from 510 stations in China for the period 1960--2008 were used to investigate geographical patterns and temporal variations of heatwave (HW) events. Dry and wet HW events were compared by different definitions. Regionally, both dry and wet HW events are commonly located in southeastern China in the monsoon area, with neither type occurring in the northeast part of Northeast China and Southwest China, while the north-northwest region of the country experiences dry HW events and a few wet HW events. In the southeast of the country, site dry HW events occurred from April to September and mostly in June, while site wet HW events occurred from April to October and mostly in September. In total, 163 regional wet HW events were identified. The ten longest regional wet HW events lasted for more than 20 days, while the mean duration for 163 events was about 11 days. For the top ten events, six occurred after the 1990s, compared with four before this time. Global surface warming was clear since 1979, but the frequency and severity of regional wet HW events were relatively low in the 1980s, increasing remarkably since the 1990s. Possible reasons for this might be the strong interdecadal and interannual variations in regional atmospheric circulations, as well as water transport related directly to temperature contrasts in different regions, rather than global-mean temperature changes.
2011, 28(2): 338-351. doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-0048-6
Abstract:
This study examined regional prolonged low temperature (PLT) events in China from the observational station data for the period 1960--2008 using the new criteria. The new definition of a site PLT event is that the daily minimum temperature does not exceed the 10th percentile threshold of the local daily minimum temperature climatology for at least 5 days at a station. The regional PLT event is defined as at least five adjacent stations exhibiting site PLT simultaneously for >5 d. Under the new definition, 552 regional PLT events were identified, and three indices: duration, extent, and intensity, as well as a comprehensive index (CI) were used to quantify the event severity. In addition, geographical patterns and temporal variations of regional PLT events were investigated using three event categories: strong, moderate, and weak. Spatially, strong events were mainly located in the north of Xinjiang and along the Yangtze River to the south of the Yangtze River; moderate events occurred in Xinjiang and south of the Yangtze River; and weak events occurred south of the Yellow River. The variation for the annual frequency of regional PLT events in China in the last 49 years showed a significant decreasing trend with a rate of -1.99 times per decade, and the significant transition decade was the 1980s.
2011, 28(2): 352-362. doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-9230-0
[Abstract](838) [PDF 937KB](1006)
Abstract:
In this study, the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) was used to analyze the average and extreme dry/wet states of Asia and North America from 1953 to 2003. The results indicate that the two continents underwent drying trends during this period. Compared with North America, Asia showed more severe drought trends. However, more significant and regular seasonal variation for drought was found in North America. The driest regions in Asia were located in the northern region of China, Mongolia, and eastern mid-Siberian plateau. Most regions in central North America were relatively wetter than other regions. The northern and southwestern regions of North America, as well as the Atlantic and Pacific coastal areas, experienced the most drought during this period. A sharp increase of the drought area and the number of extreme drought events took place from 1997 to 2003 in both Asia and North America. Severe drought events were more likely to occur during the summer on both continents. Asia had the most extreme drought events during July, but North America reached its highest drought frequency from June to September. In Asia, a persistent increasing trend of extreme drought emerged throughout the studied period. However, a more complex evolution of drought emerged in North America: a decreasing trend appeared before the mid-1960s and an increasing trend appeared after the late 1970s. A relatively steady dry/wet status was observed between the mid-1960s and the late 1970s. The role of exceptional, extreme drought events with respect to the La Nina event was considered during 1997--2003.
2011, 28(2): 363-374. doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-9220-2
Abstract:
Using gauge precipitation data and NCEP--NCAR reanalysis data, the interdecadal changes in summer precipitation during the period 1956--2007 in North China and the link with atmospheric circulation change over Eurasia are studied. Results show that precipitation amounts decreased by 16.2 mm per decade, which was attributable to a significant reduction in precipitation frequency. Contrary wave trains were found in the subtropical westerly jet (wave guide) over Eurasia for the wet and dry years of North China. When the wave trains had a ridge (trough) around the Korean Peninsula, conditions favored (disfavored) the westward and northward extension of the West Pacific subtropical high. The westward and northward extension of the West Pacific subtropical high is, and was, beneficial to rainfall in North China. The downstream propagation of Rossby waves was found to favor the maintenance of these wave trains. Sensible heating in the south of Lake Baikal and latent heating from the Korean Peninsula to the south of Japan increased during the period 1980--2007, as compared to that during 1957--1979, the wet period. These changes had positive influences on the maintenance of Anticyclonic-Cyclonic anomaly centers in the wave trains. Furthermore, northerly winds were prevalent in the lower troposphere during the dry period (1980--2007), which prohibited the transportation of water vapor to North China from the seas and thereby led to a decrease in rainfall in North China. The weakening of the Indian Monsoon during the dry period might be one of reasons for the reduction in water vapor transportation.
2011, 28(2): 375-386. doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-9223-z
Abstract:
Characteristics of the spatiotemporal distributions of precipitation anomalies in the reaches of the Yangtze River and Huaihe River (YHR) were studied using EOF method. Four main precipitation patterns for the YHR in summer identified by the first two modes: a region-wide flood over the entire YHR (RWF); a region-wide drought over the entire YHR (RWD); a flood in the south with a drought in the northern region of the Yangtze River (FS-DN); and a drought in the south with a flood in the northern region of the Yangtze River (DS-FN). Based on the first two modes and the actual precipitation departure percentage, a new precipitation index is defined in this paper. The typical flood/drought years associated with the various rainfall patterns defined by this precipitation index are more representative and closer to reality compared to some existing precipitation indexes which just use the area-mean precipitation or the EOF time components individually. The characteristics of atmospheric circulation in summer corresponding to the four main precipitation patterns over the YHR in summer show the features of atmospheric circulation differ in different precipitation pattern years. Although the different patterns share a common main influential circulation system, such as the blocking high over northeastern Asia, the low trough of westerly flows in the mid latitudes, the West Pacific Subtropical High (WPSH), and the high ridge over the Tibet Plateau, the difference in location and intensity of these systems can lead to different distributions of precipitation anomalies.
2011, 28(2): 387-397. doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-0111
Abstract:
In this study, the interannual and interdecadal relationship between midsummer Yangtze River-Huaihe River valley (YHRV) rainfall and the position of the East Asia westerly jet (EAWJ) were investigated. The midsummer YHRV rainfall was found to significantly increase after the 1980s. Moreover, the location of the EAWJ was found abnormally south of the climatic mean during 1980--2008 (ID2) compared to 1951--1979 (ID1). During ID2, associated with the southward movement of the EAWJ, an anomalous upper-level convergence occurred over middle-high latitudes (35o--55oN) and divergence occurred over lower latitudes (～30oN) of East Asia. Correspondingly, anomalous descending and ascending motion was observed in middle-high and lower latitudes along 90o--130oE, respectively, favoring more precipitation over YHRV. On an interannual time scale, the EAWJ and YHRV rainfall exhibited similar relationships during the two periods. When the EAWJ was centered abnormally southward, rainfall over YHRV tended to increase. However, EAWJ-related circulations were significantly different during the two periods. During ID1, the circulation of the southward-moving EAWJ exhibited alternating positive--negative--positive distributions from low to middle--high latitudes along the East Asian coast; the most significant anomaly appeared west of the Okhotsk Sea. However, during ID2 the EAWJ was more closely correlated with the tropical and subtropical circulations. Significant differences between ID1 and ID2 were also recorded sea surface temperatures (SSTs). During ID1, the EAWJ was influenced by the extratropical SST over the northern Pacific; however, the EAWJ was more significantly affected by the SST of the tropical western Pacific during ID2.
2011, 28(2): 398-407. doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-0019-y
Abstract:
Using NCEP/NCAR reanalysis data, the China rainfall and surface temperature data of the China Meteorological Administration, and the Arctic Oscillation (AO) indices of NOAA, the author investigates relationships between the AO and the precipitation and temperature over China. There exists a good relationship between the AO index in December and the succeeding January precipitation over South China, indicating that when the December AO index is positive (negative), the January precipitation over South China increases (decreases). A remarkable negative correlation between the December AO index and the January surface temperature also exists over South China, indicating that when the December AO index is positive (negative), the January temperature over South China drops (rises). The occurrence of this anomalous climate is related to the anomalies of the atmospheric circulation systems. The December AO greatly influences circulation anomalies in January. A positive phase of the AO is found to lead to a stronger subtropical jet over the south side from the Iran Plateau to the Tibetan Plateau. Consequently, it results in a deepening pressure trough around the Bay of Bengal, which transports the warm and wet air to South China continuously. The Siberian High in January is stronger and extends farther southeastward. It results in continual cold air at 1000 hPa pouring into South China, inducing low temperature. Cooperating with the trough of the Bay of Bengal, anomalous precipitation occurs over South China. For the negative phase of the December AO, the opposite situation is observed.
2011, 28(2): 408-420. doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-0018-z
Abstract:
Daily observations of wind speed at 12 stations in the Greater Beijing Area during 1960--2008 were homogenized using the Multiple Analysis of Series for Homogenization method. The linear trends in the regional mean annual and seasonal (winter, spring, summer and autumn) wind speed series were -0.26, -0.39, -0.30, -0.12 and -0.22 m s-1 (10 yr)-1, respectively. Winter showed the greatest magnitude in declining wind speed, followed by spring, autumn and summer. The annual and seasonal frequencies of wind speed extremes (days) also decreased, more prominently for winter than for the other seasons. The declining trends in wind speed and extremes were formed mainly by some rapid declines during the 1970s and 1980s. The maximum declining trend in wind speed occurred at Chaoyang (CY), a station within the central business district (CBD) of Beijing with the highest level of urbanization. The declining trends were in general smaller in magnitude away from the city center, except for the winter case in which the maximum declining trend shifted northeastward to rural Miyun (MY). The influence of urbanization on the annual wind speed was estimated to be about -0.05 m s-1 (10 yr)-1 during 1960--2008, accounting for around one fifth of the regional mean declining trend. The annual and seasonal geostrophic wind speeds around Beijing, based on daily mean sea level pressure (MSLP) from the ERA-40 reanalysis dataset, also exhibited decreasing trends, coincident with the results from site observations. A comparative analysis of the MSLP fields between 1966--1975 and 1992--2001 suggested that the influences of both the winter and summer monsoons on Beijing were weaker in the more recent of the two decades. It is suggested that the bulk of wind in Beijing is influenced considerably by urbanization, while changes in strong winds or wind speed extremes are prone to large-scale climate change in the region.
2011, 28(2): 421-432. doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-9224-y
Abstract:
The tropical Indian Ocean (TIO) is warmer than normal during the summer when or after the El Ni\~{n}o decays. The present study investigates the impact of TIO SST on the South Asian High (SAH) in summer. When the TIO is warmer, the SAH strengthens and its center shifts southward. It is found that the variations in the SAH cannot be accounted for by the precipitation anomaly. A possible mechanism is proposed to explain the connection between the TIO and SAH: warmer SST in the TIO changes the equivalent potential temperature (EPT) in the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL), alters the temperature profile of the moist atmosphere, warms the troposphere, which produces significant positive height anomaly over South Asia and modifies the SAH. An atmospheric general circulation model, ECHAM5, which has a reasonable prediction skill in the TIO and South Asia, was selected to test the effects of TIO SST on the SAH. The experiment with idealized heating over the TIO reproduced the response of the SAH to TIO warming. The results suggest that the TIO-induced EPT change in the ABL can account for the variations in the SAH.
2011, 28(2): 433-447. doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-0013-4
Abstract:
Potential changes in precipitation extremes in July--August over China in response to CO2 doubling are analyzed based on the output of 24 coupled climate models from the Twentieth-Century Climate in Coupled Models (20C3M) experiment and the 1% per year CO2 increase experiment (to doubling) (1pctto2x) of phase 3 of the Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project (CMIP3). Evaluation of the models' performance in simulating the mean state shows that the majority of models fairly reproduce the broad spatial pattern of observed precipitation. However, all the models underestimate extreme precipitation by ～50%. The spread among the models over the Tibetan Plateau is ～2--3 times larger than that over the other areas. Models with higher resolution generally perform better than those with lower resolutions in terms of spatial pattern and precipitation amount. Under the 1pctto2x scenario, the ratio between the absolute value of MME extreme precipitation change and model spread is larger than that of total precipitation, indicating a relatively robust change of extremes. The change of extreme precipitation is more homogeneous than the total precipitation. Analysis on the output of Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory coupled climate model version 2.1 (GFDL-CM2.1) indicates that the spatially consistent increase of surface temperature and water vapor content contribute to the large increase of extreme precipitation over contiguous China, which follows the Clausius--Clapeyron relationship. Whereas, the meridionally tri-polar pattern of mean precipitation change over eastern China is dominated by the change of water vapor convergence, which is determined by the response of monsoon circulation to global warming.
2011, 28(2): 448-463. doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-0052-x
Abstract:
This is the second part of the authors' analysis on the output of 24 coupled climate models from the Twentieth-Century Climate in Coupled Models (20C3M) experiment and 1% per year CO2 increase experiment (to doubling) (1pctto2x) of phase 3 of the Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project (CMIP3). The study focuses on the potential changes of July--August temperature extremes over China. The pattern correlation coefficients of the simulated temperature with the observations are 0.6--0.9, which are higher than the results for precipitation. However, most models have cold bias compared to observation, with a larger cold bias over western China (>5oC) than over eastern China (oC). The multi-model ensemble (MME) exhibits a significant increase of temperature under the 1pctto2x scenario. The amplitude of the MME warming shows a northwest--southeast decreasing gradient. The warming spread among the models (～1oC--2oC) is less than MME warming (～2oC--4oC), indicating a relatively robust temperature change under CO2 doubling. Further analysis of Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory coupled climate model version 2.1 (GFDL-CM2.1) simulations suggests that the warming pattern may be related to heat transport by summer monsoons. The contrast of cloud effects also has contributions. The different vertical structures of warming over northwestern China and southeastern China may be attributed to the different natures of vertical circulations. The deep, moist convection over southeastern China is an effective mechanism for transporting" the warming upward, leading to more upper-level warming. In northwestern China, the warming is more surface-orientated, possibly due to the shallow, dry convection.
2011, 28(2): 464-476. doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-0016-1
Abstract:
Projections of future precipitation change over China are studied based on the output of a global AGCM, ECHAM5, with a high resolution of T319 (equivalent to 40 km). Evaluation of the model's performance in simulating present-day precipitation shows encouraging results. The spatial distributions of both mean and extreme precipitation, especially the locations of main precipitation centers, are reproduced reasonably. The simulated annual cycle of precipitation is close to the observed. The performance of the model over eastern China is generally better than that over western China. A weakness of the model is the overestimation of precipitation over northern and western China. Analyses on the potential change in precipitation projected under the A1B scenario show that both annual mean precipitation intensity and extreme precipitation would increase significantly over southeastern China. The percentage increase in extreme precipitation is larger than that of mean precipitation. Meanwhile, decreases in mean and extreme precipitation are evident over the southern Tibetan Plateau. For precipitation days, extreme precipitation days are projected to increase over all of China. Both consecutive dry days over northern China and consecutive wet days over southern China would decrease.