Climate Dynamics

, Volume 48, Issue 5–6, pp 1467–1482 | Cite as

Atmospheric response to Indian Ocean Dipole forcing: changes of Southeast China winter precipitation under global warming

  • Ling Zhang
  • Frank SielmannEmail author
  • Klaus Fraedrich
  • Xiefei Zhi


To investigate the relationship between autumn Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) events and the subsequent winter precipitation in Southeast China (SEC), observed fields of monthly precipitation, sea surface temperature (SST) and atmospheric circulation are subjected to a running and a maximum correlation analysis. The results show a significant change of the relevance of IOD for the early modulation of SEC winter precipitation in the 1980s. After 1980, positive correlations suggest prolonged atmospheric responses to IOD forcing, which are linked to an abnormal moisture supply initiated in autumn and extended into the subsequent winter. Under global warming two modulating factors are relevant: (1) an increase of the static stability has been observed suppressing vertical heat and momentum transports; (2) a positive (mid-level) cloud-radiation feedback jointly with the associated latent heating (apparent moisture sink Q2) explains the prolongation of positive as well as negative SST anomalies by conserving the heating (apparent heat source Q1) in the coupled atmosphere–ocean system. During the positive IOD events in fall (after 1980) the dipole heating anomalies in the middle and lower troposphere over the tropical Indian Ocean are prolonged to winter by a positive mid-level cloud-radiative feedback with latent heat release. Subsequently, thermal adaptation leads to an anticyclonic anomaly over Eastern India overlying the anomalous cooling SST of the tropical Eastern Indian Ocean enhancing the moisture flow from the tropical Indian Ocean through the Bay of Bengal into South China, following the northwestern boundary of the anticyclonic circulation anomaly over east India, thereby favoring abundant precipitation in SEC.


IOD Atmospheric responses Heating anomalies Precipitation Global warming 



This study acknowledges the support of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41305081), National Basic Research Program “973” of China (2012CB955204), Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M) fellowship, and Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD). Our special thanks go to Dr. Frank Lunkeit for his support in setting up the GCM experiments and for several helpful discussions. The authors finally wish to thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructice comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ling Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Frank Sielmann
    • 3
    Email author
  • Klaus Fraedrich
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiefei Zhi
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Meteorology Disaster, Ministry of Education (KLME)/Joint International Research Laboratory of Climate and Environment Change (ILCEC)/Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological Disasters (CIC-FEMD)Nanjing University of Information Science and TechnologyNanjingChina
  2. 2.Max Planck Institute for MeteorologyHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Meteorological InstituteHamburg UniversityHamburgGermany

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