Advances in Atmospheric Sciences

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 141–162 | Cite as

Climatology and interannual variability of the southeast asian summer monsoon

  • K. M. Lau
  • Song Yang


In this paper, results from a pilot study for the South China Sea Monsoon Experiment are reported. Based on analyses of 9 years of pentad and monthly mean data, the climatology of subseasonal features and interannual variability of the Southeast Asian monsoon (SEAM) are documented. The present analysis is focused on the sudden onset of the South China Sea monsoon and its relation to the atmospheric and oceanic processes on the entire Asian monsoon region.

It is found that the onset of the SEAM occurs around mid-May, signaling the earliest stage of the entire Asian summer monsoon system. The establishment of monsoon rainfall over the South China Sea is abrupt, being accompanied by substantial changes in the large scale atmospheric circulation and sea surface temperature in the adjacent oceans. The onset and fluctuations of SEAM involve the interaction and metamorphosis of the large scale convection over the Indo-China, the South China Sea and the southern Bay of Bengal. Results show that the onset time of the SEAM differs greatly from one year to another. The delayed (advanced) onset of the monsoon may be related to basin-wide warm (cold) events of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. We also present evidence showing that the SEAM fluctuations in May may foreshadow the development of the full-scale Asian summer monsoon during the subsequent months.

Key words

Southeast Asian monsoon South China Sea Climatology Onset Interannual variability 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arkin, P. and B.N. Meisner (1987), The relationship between large-scale convective rainfall and cold cloud over the Western Hemisphere during 1982-85, Mon. Wea. Rev.,115: 51–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chen, G.T.-J. (1996), The large-scale features associated with the Meiyu over South China and Taiwan, From Atmospheric Circulation to Global Change,Ed. by IAP Chinese Academy of Sciences, China Meteorological Press, 289–313.Google Scholar
  3. Chen, L., Q. Zhu, H. Luo, J. He, M. Dong and Z. Feng (1991), East Asian Monsoon,Meteorological Press, pp. 362 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  4. Chen, T.-C. and S. -P. Weng (1996), Some effects of the intraseasonal oscillation on the equatorial waves over the western tropical Pacific-South China Sea region during the northern summer, Mon. Wea. Rev., in press.Google Scholar
  5. Chu, P.C., C. Li, D. Ko and C.N.K. Mooers (1993), A numerical simulation of seasonal circulation in the South China Sea, AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, California, 6–10 December 1993.Google Scholar
  6. Ding, Y., Q. Wang and J. Yan (1996), Some aspects of climatology of the summer monsoon over the South China Sea, From Atmospheric Circulation to Global Change,Ed. by IAP Chinese Academy of Sciences, China Meterological Press, 329–339.Google Scholar
  7. Goddard, L. and N.E. Graham (1996), El Nino in the 1990’s, J. Geophys, Res.,submitted.Google Scholar
  8. He, H., J.W. McGinnis, Z. Song and M. Yanai (1987), Onset of the Asian monsoon in 1979 and the effect of Tibetan Plateau, Mon. Wea. Rev.,115: 1966–1995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ho, C, et al. (1996), The abrupt transitions and multiple onsets associated with the East Asian monsoon, Mon. Wea. Rev.,submitted.Google Scholar
  10. Hoskins, B. (1996), On the existence and strength of the summer subtropical anticyclones, Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc,77: 1287–1292.Google Scholar
  11. Huang, R. (1990), The East Asia / Pacific pattern teleconnection of summer circulation and climate anomaly in East Asia, Climate Change Dynamics and Modelling,China Meteorological Press, 127–140.Google Scholar
  12. Janowiak, J. E., and P. Arkin (1991), Rainfall variations in tropics during 1986-1989 as estimated from observations of cloud top temperature, J. Geophys. Res.,96: 3359–3373.Google Scholar
  13. Ju. J. and J. Slingo (1995), The Asian summer monsoon and ENSO, Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc,121:1133–1168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Krishnamurti, T.N. (1985), The Summer Monsoon Experiment, A review, Mon. Wea. Rev.,113: 1590–1626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lau, K.-M. (1992), East Asian summer monsoon rainfall variability and climate teleconnection, J. Meteor. Soc. Japan,70: 211–242.Google Scholar
  16. Lau, K.-M. G.J. Yang and S. Shen (1988), Seasonal and intraseasonal climatology of summer monsoon rainfall over East Asia, Mon. Wea. Rev.,116: 18–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lau, K.-M. and M.T. Li (1984), The monsoon of East Asia and its global association, Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc,65: 114–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lau, K.-M. and S. Yang (1996), The Asian monsoon and predictability of the tropical ocean-atmosphere system, Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc,122: 945–957.Google Scholar
  19. Luo, H. and M. Yanai (1984), The large-scale circulation and heat sources over the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding areas during the early summer of 1979: Part II: Heat and moisture budgets, Mon. Wea. Rev.,112: 966–989.’Google Scholar
  20. Ninomiya, K. (1989), Cloud distribution over East Asia during Baiu period of 1979, J. Meteor. Soc Japan,67: 639–658.Google Scholar
  21. Nitta, T. (1987), Convective activities in the tropical western Pacific and their impact on the Northern Hemisphere summer circulation, J. Meteor. Soc. Japan,41: 373–390.Google Scholar
  22. Rao, Y.P. (1976), Southwest monsoon,Meteorology Monographs, Synoptic Meteorology, Indian Meteorological Department.Google Scholar
  23. Reynolds, R.W. and T.M. Smith (1994), Improved global sea surface temperature analyses using optimum interpolation, J. Climate,7:929–948.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Schubert, S.D., R.B. Rood and J. Pfaendtner (1993), An assimilated dataset for earth science applications, Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.,74:2331–2342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. SCSMEX Committee (1995), The South China Sea monsoon experiment (SCSMEX), Science Plan, pp. 65.Google Scholar
  26. Shen, S. and K.-M. Lau (1995), Biennial oscillation associated with the East Asian summer monsoon and tropical sea surface temperatures, J. Meteor. Soc. Japan,73:105–124.Google Scholar
  27. Soman, M.K. and J. Slingo (1996), Sensitivity of Asian summer monsoon to aspects of sea surface temperature anomalies in the tropical Pacific Ocean, Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc, in press.Google Scholar
  28. Tao, S. and L. Chen (1987), A review of recent research on the East Asian summer monsoon in China, Monsoon Meteorology,Ed. by C.-P. Chang and T.N. Krishnamurti, Oxford University Press, pp. 60–92.Google Scholar
  29. Webster, P.J., and S. Yang (1992), Monsoon and ENSO: Selectively interactive systems, Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc,118: 877–926.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Yanai, M., C. Li and Z. Song (1992), Seasonal heating of the Tibetan Plateau and its effects on the evolution of the Asian summer monsoon, J. Meteor. Soc. Japan,70: 319–351.Google Scholar
  31. Yang, S. (1983), Characteristics and structures of the atmospheric circulation in Southeast Asia during the active and break periods of the southwest monsoon, Proceedings of the symposium on the Summer Monsoon in Southeast Asia-1981,Yunnan People’s Press, 49-63 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  32. Yang, S., and K.-M. Lau (1996), Influences of SST and ground wetness on the Asian summer monsoon, J. Climate, submitted.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Advances in Atmospheric Sciences 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. M. Lau
    • 1
  • Song Yang
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory for Atmospheres, Code 913NASA-Goddard Space Flight CenterGreenbeltUSA
  2. 2.Laboratory for AtmospheresNASA-Goddard Space Flight CenterGreenbeltUSA

Personalised recommendations