, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 1197-1207,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 16 May 2012

Boreal summer continental monsoon rainfall and hydroclimate anomalies associated with the Asian-Pacific Oscillation


With the twentieth century analysis data (1901–2002) for atmospheric circulation, precipitation, Palmer drought severity index, and sea surface temperature (SST), we show that the Asian-Pacific Oscillation (APO) during boreal summer is a major mode of the earth climate variation linking to global atmospheric circulation and hydroclimate anomalies, especially the Northern Hemisphere (NH) summer land monsoon. Associated with a positive APO phase are the warm troposphere over the Eurasian land and the relatively cool troposphere over the North Pacific, the North Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean. Such an amplified land–ocean thermal contrast between the Eurasian land and its adjacent oceans signifies a stronger than normal NH summer monsoon, with the strengthened southerly or southwesterly monsoon prevailing over tropical Africa, South Asia, and East Asia. A positive APO implies an enhanced summer monsoon rainfall over all major NH land monsoon regions: West Africa, South Asia, East Asia, and Mexico. Thus, APO is a sensible measure of the NH land monsoon rainfall intensity. Meanwhile, reduced precipitation appears over the arid and semiarid regions of northern Africa, the Middle East, and West Asia, manifesting the monsoon-desert coupling. On the other hand, surrounded by the cool troposphere over the North Pacific and North Atlantic, the extratropical North America has weakened low-level continental low and upper-level ridge, hence a deficient summer rainfall. Corresponding to a high APO index, the African and South Asian monsoon regions are wet and cool, the East Asian monsoon region is wet and hot, and the extratropical North America is dry and hot. Wet and dry climates correspond to wet and dry soil conditions, respectively. The APO is also associated with significant variations of SST in the entire Pacific and the extratropical North Atlantic during boreal summer, which resembles the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation in SST. Of note is that the Pacific SST anomalies are not present throughout the year, rather, mainly occur in late spring, peak at late summer, and are nearly absent during boreal winter. The season-dependent APO–SST relationship and the origin of the APO remain elusive.

This paper is a contribution to the special issue on Global Monsoon Climate, a product of the Global Monsoon Working Group of the Past Global Changes (PAGES) project, coordinated by Pinxian Wang, Bin Wang, and Thorsten Kiefer.