Climate Dynamics

, Volume 51, Issue 7–8, pp 3111–3123 | Cite as

Wet-to-dry shift over Southwest China in 1994 tied to the warming of tropical warm pool

  • Lin Wang
  • Gang Huang
  • Wen Chen
  • Wen Zhou
  • Weiqiang Wang


The autumn climate in Southwest China (SWC) experienced a notable wet-to-dry shift in 1994. Associated with this change in precipitation, decadal signatures of large-scale atmospheric circulation and SST identify a likely dynamical origin: the tropical warm pool (TWP) consisting of tropical northwest Pacific (TNWP, 3°S–12°N and 110°E–150°E) sector and tropical east Indian Ocean (TEI, 10°S–3°N and 80°E–110°E) sector. A cold-to-warm phase switch of TWP SST occurred in 1994, coinciding exactly with the timing of the regime transition of SWC precipitation. During post-1994 period, warm states in the TNWP and TEI sectors plays in a synergistic fashion to invoke dry decades in SWC. On the one side, warm SST over the TNWP sector excites an anomalous cyclone centered on the South China Sea directed opposite to the climatological moisture transport and strengthened zonal wind to its west accompanied by a weakening of the poleward flux; on the other side, warm SST over the TEI sector acts to intensify inflow into TEI with less concurrent transfer of moisture to SWC and to steer moisture to the northern Arabic Sea and away from the SWC-oriented track. Meanwhile, the troposphere over SWC is capped by subsidence, which is jointly contributed by TNWP and TEI. It then follows a reduced moisture supply, suppressed convective activity, and anomalous divergence in SWC, bringing a precipitation deficit there. In contrast, cold TWP SST during 1961–1994 favors wet conditions in SWC, given a perfectly symmetrical circulation pattern. Further, the dominant role of TWP is confirmed, because the modeled response to TWP SST forcing alone bears a great resemblance to the observed evidence. Finally, it is also found that the teleconnected influence induced by TWP is stronger in southern SWC than in northern SWC, which explains the south-north gradient of interdecadal signal of SWC precipitation.


Drought Southwest China Decadal shift Tropical warm pool SST 



We thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions. I’m grateful to Dr. Chao He from Jinan University for his help in porting the LBM package to the machine architecture. Part of this work was conducted at City University of Hong Kong. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China Grant nos. 41505069, 41425019, 41461144001, 41721004 and 41530425, public science and technology research funds projects of ocean Grant no. 201505013, the State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Project no. LTO1707), and the Shenzhen Science and Technology Plan Grant no. JCYJ20160422090117011.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CAS Key Laboratory of Regional Climate-Environment for Temperate East Asia, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Center for Monsoon System Research, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Guy Carpenter Asia-Pacific Climate Impact Centre, School of Energy and EnvironmentCity University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  5. 5.State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of OceanologyChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouChina

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