, Volume 97, Issue 1-2, pp 53-64
Date: 01 Apr 2009

Intraseasonal variability of latent-heat flux in the South China Sea

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Abstract

Intraseasonal variability (ISV) of latent-heat flux in the South China Sea (SCS) is examined using 9 years of weekly data from January 1998 to December 2006. Using harmonic and composite analysis, some fundamental features of the latent-heat flux ISVs are revealed. Intraseasonal latent-heat flux has two spectral peaks around 28–35 and 49–56 days, comparable with the timescales of the atmospheric ISV in the region. Active monsoon is clearly correlated with positive and negative phases of the ISV of latent-heat flux in the SCS. The characteristics of the intraseasonal latent-heat flux variations in summer are remarkably different from those in winter. The amplitudes of significant intraseasonal oscillations are about 35 and 80 W∙m−2 during summer and winter monsoons, respectively. In summer, the intraseasonal latent-heat flux perturbations are characterized by slow eastward (about 1° latitude/day) and slower northward (about 0.75° longitude/day) propagations, probably in a response to eastward and northward propagating Madden-Julian oscillations (MJOs) from the equatorial Indian Ocean. In contrast, the perturbations appear to remain in the northern SCS region like a quasi-stationary wave in winter. In summer, the intraseasonal latent-heat flux fluctuations are highly correlated with wind speed. In winter, however, they are primarily associated with winds and near-surface air humidity. In addition, the intraseasonal SST variation is estimated to significantly reduce the amplitude of the intraseasonal latent-heat flux by 20% during winter.