Advances in Atmospheric Sciences

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 832–844 | Cite as

Influence of South China Sea SST and the ENSO on winter rainfall over South China

  • Lian-Tong Zhou (周连童)
  • Chi-Yung Tam
  • Wen Zhou (周 文)
  • Johnny C. L. Chan


The present study investigates the influence of South China Sea (SCS) SST and ENSO on winter (January–February–March; JFM) rainfall over South China and its dynamic processes by using station observations for the period 1951–2003, Met Office Hadley Center SST data for the period 1900–2008, and ERA-40 reanalysis data for the period 1958–2002. It is found that JFM rainfall over South China has a significant correlation with Niño-3 and SCS SST. Analyses show that in El Niño or positive SCS SST anomaly years, southwesterly anomalies at 700 hPa dominate over the South China Sea, which in turn transports more moisture into South China and favors increased rainfall. A partial regression analysis indicates that the independent ENSO influence on winter rainfall occurs mainly over South China, whereas SCS SST has a larger independent influence on winter rainfall in northern part of South China. The temperature over South China shows an obvious decrease at 300 hPa and an increase near the surface, with the former induced by Niño-3 and the latter SCS SST anomalies. This enhances the convective instability and weakens the potential vorticity (PV), which explains the strengthening of ascending motion and the increase of JFM rainfall over South China.

Key words

ENSO South China Sea SST rainfall convective instability potential vorticity 


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Copyright information

© Chinese National Committee for International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Science Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lian-Tong Zhou (周连童)
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chi-Yung Tam
    • 2
    • 3
  • Wen Zhou (周 文)
    • 2
    • 3
  • Johnny C. L. Chan
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Monsoon System Research, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.City U-IAP Laboratory for Atmospheric SciencesCity University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  3. 3.Guy Carpenter Asia-Pacific Climate Impact Centre, School of Energy and EnvironmentCity University of Hong KongHong KongChina

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