Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 99, Issue 1, pp 163–186

A climatological study on the role of the South China Sea monsoon onset in the development of the East Asian summer monsoon

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00704-009-0136-7

Cite this article as:
Kueh, MT. & Lin, SC. Theor Appl Climatol (2010) 99: 163. doi:10.1007/s00704-009-0136-7

Abstract

The unique role of the South China Sea summer monsoon (SCSSM) onset process in the development of the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) is demonstrated in this study. The SCSSM onset process is examined in terms of the vertical linkage between the Western Pacific subtropical high (WPSH) and the South Asian high (SAH). A composite analysis is performed in order to adequately describe the vertical linkage in a synoptic timescale. The South China Sea (SCS) is a key region for the seasonal migrations of the WPSH and the SAH, with the former retreating northeastward, the latter advancing northwestward, and both taking place over the SCS during the SCSSM onset period. The SCSSM onset process is characterized by a significant change in the relative configuration of the ridge lines of the WPSH and the SAH. Just prior to the onset period, the ridge lines intersect vertically over the SCS, thus prohibiting convective activities. During the onset period, the ridge line intersection moves away from the SCS due to the retreating WPSH and the northward shift of the SAH ridge line. This coincides with the emergence of monsoonal convective activities over the SCS and the establishment of a moisture channel from the tropics, which in turn provides favorable conditions for the development of deep convective activity. The northeastward intrusion of the lower level southwesterlies and the moisture supplying channel are closely related to the development of a preexisting twin cyclone in the Bay of Bengal. The northeastward lower level southwesterlies form a monsoonal ascending motion in the SCS, which further merges upward into the northeasterlies to the south of the SAH ridge line. This is a signature of the establishment of the local Hadley circulation, which marks the beginning of the EASM. The frontal system is the most frequent attendant synoptic event during the SCSSM onset. From the viewpoint of synoptic process, the SCSSM undergoes a two-stage onset process which is characterized by the southward intrusion of the frontal system in the earlier stage and the outbreak of the tropical convection in the later stage. The frontal system may act as a trigger for the outbreak of the tropical convection in the later stage. The burst out of the monsoonal convection over the SCS is essential for the breakdown of the vertical intersection between the WPSH and the SAH therein.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Atmospheric SciencesNational Central UniversityTaoyuanTaiwan