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Date: 21 Jan 2014

Interdecadal variability of winter precipitation in Southeast China


Interdecadal variability of observed winter precipitation in Southeast China (1961–2010) is characterized by the first empirical orthogonal function of the three-monthly Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) subjected to a 9-year running mean. For interdecadal time scales the dominating spatial modes represent monopole features involving the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and the sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies. Dynamic composite analysis (based on NCEP/NCAR reanalyzes) reveals the following results: (1) Interdecadal SPI-variations show a trend from a dryer state in the 1970s via an increase during the 1980s towards stabilization on wetter conditions commencing with the 1990s. (2) Increasing wetness in Southeast China is attributed to an abnormal anticyclone over south Japan, with northward transport of warm and humid air from the tropical Pacific to South China. (3) In mid-to-high latitudes the weakened southward flow of polar airmasses induces low-level warming over Eurasia due to stronger AO by warmer zonal temperature advection. This indicates that AO is attributed to the Southeast China precipitation increase influenced by circulation anomalies over the mid-to-high latitudes. (4) The abnormal moisture transport along the southwestern boundary of the abnormal anticyclone over south Japan is related to anomalous south-easterlies modulated by the SST anomalies over Western Pacific Ocean; a positive (negative) SST anomaly will strengthen (weaken) warm and humid air transport, leading to abundant (reduced) precipitation in Southeast China. That is both AO and SST anomalies determine the nonlinear trend observed in winter precipitation over Southeast China.