Climate Dynamics

, Volume 43, Issue 7–8, pp 1883–1891 | Cite as

Prediction of early summer rainfall over South China by a physical-empirical model

  • So-Young Yim
  • Bin Wang
  • Wen Xing


In early summer (May–June, MJ) the strongest rainfall belt of the northern hemisphere occurs over the East Asian (EA) subtropical front. During this period the South China (SC) rainfall reaches its annual peak and represents the maximum rainfall variability over EA. Hence we establish an SC rainfall index, which is the MJ mean precipitation averaged over 72 stations over SC (south of 28°N and east of 110°E) and represents superbly the leading empirical orthogonal function mode of MJ precipitation variability over EA. In order to predict SC rainfall, we established a physical-empirical model. Analysis of 34-year observations (1979–2012) reveals three physically consequential predictors. A plentiful SC rainfall is preceded in the previous winter by (a) a dipole sea surface temperature (SST) tendency in the Indo-Pacific warm pool, (b) a tripolar SST tendency in North Atlantic Ocean, and (c) a warming tendency in northern Asia. These precursors foreshadow enhanced Philippine Sea subtropical High and Okhotsk High in early summer, which are controlling factors for enhanced subtropical frontal rainfall. The physical empirical model built on these predictors achieves a cross-validated forecast correlation skill of 0.75 for 1979–2012. Surprisingly, this skill is substantially higher than four-dynamical models’ ensemble prediction for 1979–2010 period (0.15). The results here suggest that the low prediction skill of current dynamical models is largely due to models’ deficiency and the dynamical prediction has large room to improve.


South China rainfall index (SCRI) East Asian subtropical front Indo-Pacific warm pool SST North Atlantic Ocean Philippine Sea subtropical High Okhotsk High Physical-empirical model 



This work was supported from Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Climate Center, the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) through a Global Research Laboratory (GRL) grant (MEST 2011-0021927), and IPRC, which is in part supported by JAMSTEC, NOAA, and NASA. This is the SOEST publication number 9048 and IPRC publication number 1029.


  1. Dee DP et al (2011) The ERA-interim reanalysis: configuration and performance of the data assimilation system. Q J R Meteorol Soc 137:553–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Delworth TL, Broccoli AJ, Rosati A et al (2006) GFDL’s CM2 global coupled climate models. Part I: formulation and simulation characteristics. J Clim 19:643–674CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ding YH (1992) Summer monsoon rainfalls in China. J Meteor Soc Japan 70:373–396Google Scholar
  4. Hudson D, Alves O, Hendon HH, Wang G (2011) The impact of atmospheric initialisation on seasonal prediction of tropical Pacific SST. Clim Dyn 36:1155–1171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Huffman GJ, Bolvin DT, Adler RF (2011) Last updated GPCP Version 2.2 combined precipitation data set. WDC-A, NCDC, Asheville, NC (2011). Dataset accessed at
  6. Kwon M, Jhun JG, Ha KJ (2007) Decadal change in east Asian summer monsoon circulation in the mid-1990s. Geophys Res Lett 34:L21706. doi: 10.1029/2007GL031977 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Lau NC, Leetmaa A, Nath MJ, Wang HL (2005) Influences of ENSO-induced Indo–western Pacific SST anomalies on extratropical atmospheric variability during the boreal summer. J Clim 18:2922–2942CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. LinHo Wang B (2002) The time-space structure of the Asian-Pacific summer monsoon: a fast annual cycle view. J Clim 15:2001–2019CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Luo JJ, Masson S, Behera S, Shingu S, Yamagata T (2005) Seasonal climate predictability in a coupled OAGCM using a different approach for ensemble forecast. J Clim 18:4474–4497CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ogi M, Tachibana Y, Yamazaki K (2004) The connectivity of the winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the summer Okhotsk High. J Meteor Soc Japan 82:905–913CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Panofsky HA, Brier GW (1968) Some applications of statistics to meteorology. Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PA, p 224Google Scholar
  12. Qin S, Riyu L, Chaofan L (2013) Large-scale circulation anomalies associated with interannual variation in monthly rainfall over South China from May to August. Adv Atmos Sci. doi: 10.1007/s00376-013-3051-x
  13. Saha S et al (2013) The NCEP climate forecast system version 2. J Clim (accepted)Google Scholar
  14. Smith TM, Reynolds RW, Peterson TC, Lawrimore J (2008) Improvements to NOAA’s historical merged land-ocean surface temperature analysis (1880–2006). J Clim 21:2283–2296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Tao S, Chen L (1987) A review of recent research on the East Asia summer monsoon in China. In: Chang C-P, Krishnamurti TN (eds) Monsoon Meteorology. Clarendon Press, pp 60–92Google Scholar
  16. Wang B, Xu X (1997) Northern Hemisphere summer monsoon singularities and climatological intraseasonal oscillation. J Clim 10:1071–1085CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Wang B, Wu R, Fu X (2000) Pacific-East Asia teleconnection: how does ENSO affect East Asian climate? J Clim 13:1517–1536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Wang B, Liu J, Yang J, Zhou T, Wu Z (2009a) Distinct principal modes of early and late summer rainfall anomalies in East Asia. J Clim 22:3864–3875CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Wang B, Lee JY et al (2009b) Advance and prospectus of seasonal prediction: assessment of the APCC/CliPAS 14-model ensemble retroperspective seasonal prediction (1980–2004). Clim Dyn 33:93–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Wang B, Liu J, Kim HJ, Webster P, Yim SY (2012) Recent change of the global monsoon precipitation (1979–2008). Clim Dyn 39:1123–1135. doi: 10.1007/s00382-011-1266-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Wang B, Xiang B, Lee JY (2013) Subtropical high predictability establishes a promising way for monsoon and tropical storm predictions. PNAS 10:2718–2722CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Wu R, Wang B (2002) A contrast of the East Asian summer monsoon and ENSO relationship between 1962–1977 and 1978–1993. J Clim 15:3266–3279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wu Z, Wang B, Li J, Jin FF (2009) An empirical seasonal prediction of the east Asian summer monsoon using ENSO and NAO. J Geophys Res 114:D18120. doi: 10.1029/2009JD011733 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Xiang B, Wang B (2013) Mechanisms for the advanced Asian summer monsoon onset since the mid-to-late 1990 s. J Clim. doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00445.1 Google Scholar
  25. Yim SY, Jhun JG, Yeh SW (2008) Decadal change in the relationship between east Asian-western North Pacific summer monsoon and ENSO in the mid-1990 s. Geophys Res Lett 35:L20711. doi: 10.1029/2008GL035751 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Yun KS, Seo KH, Ha KJ (2010) Interdecadal change in the relationship between ENSO and the intraseasonal oscillation in East Asia. J Clim 23:3599–3612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Zhou T, Yu R, Li H, Wang B (2008) Ocean forcing to changes in global monsoon precipitation over the recent half-century. J Clim 21:3833–3852CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Zhou T, Gong D, Li J, Li B (2009) Detecting and understanding the multi-decadal variability of the East Asian Summer Monsoon—recent progress and state of affairs. Meteorol Z 18:455–467CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Pacific Research CenterUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Department of MeteorologyUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA

Personalised recommendations