Climate Dynamics

, Volume 37, Issue 7–8, pp 1661–1669 | Cite as

Predictable climate dynamics of abnormal East Asian winter monsoon: once-in-a-century snowstorms in 2007/2008 winter

  • Zhiwei Wu
  • Jianping Li
  • Zhihong Jiang
  • Jinhai He


In 2008 (January–February), East Asia (EA) experiences the most severe and long-persisting snowstorm in the past 100 years. Results in this study show that 2007/2008 winter is dominant by the third principal mode of the East Asian winter monsoon (EAWM) which explains 8.7% of the total surface air temperature variance over EA. Significantly distinguished from the first two leading modes, the third mode positive phase features an increased surface pressure over the northwestern EA, an enhanced central Siberian high (CSH), a strengthened and northwestward extended western Pacific subtropical high (WPSH) and anomalously strong moisture transport from western Pacific, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal to EA. It also exhibits an intimate linkage with the sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTAs) in the Arctic Ocean areas adjacent to northern Eurasian continent, central North Pacific and northeastern Pacific. Such SSTAs emerge in prior autumn and persist through ensuing winter, signifying precursory conditions for the anomalous third EAWM mode. Numerical experiments with a simple general circulation model demonstrate that the Arctic SSTAs excite geo-potential height anomalies over northern Eurasian continent and impacts on the CSH, while the extra-tropical Pacific SSTAs deform the WPSH. Co-effects of them play crucial roles on origins of the third EAWM mode. Based on these results, an empirical model is established to predict the third mode of the EAWM. Hindcast is performed for the 1957–2008 period, which shows a quite realistic prediction skill in general and good prediction ability in the extreme phase of the third mode of the EAWM such as 2007/2008 winter. Since all these predictors can be readily monitored in real time, this empirical model provides a real time forecast tool and may facilitate the seasonal prediction of high-impact weather associated with the abnormal EAWM.


Seasonal prediction East Asian winter monsoon Snowstorm 



Zhiwei Wu is supported by the Sustainable Agriculture Environment Systems (SAGES) research initiative of Agriculture and Afri-Food Canada through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Fellowship Program. The authors are supported by the Special Research Program for Public Welfare (Meteorology) of China under Grant No. GYHY200906016 and the National Basic Research Program “973” (Grant No. 2010CB950400).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhiwei Wu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jianping Li
    • 1
  • Zhihong Jiang
    • 3
  • Jinhai He
    • 3
  1. 1.LASG, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Meteorological Research DivisionEnvironment CanadaDorvalCanada
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster of Ministry of EducationNanjing University of Information Science and TechnologyNanjingChina

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