Climate Dynamics

, Volume 53, Issue 5–6, pp 3109–3129 | Cite as

Synoptic-scale atmospheric circulation anomalies associated with summertime daily precipitation extremes in the middle–lower reaches of the Yangtze River Basin

  • Fuqiang Cao
  • Tao GaoEmail author
  • Li Dan
  • Zhuguo Ma
  • Xiaolong Chen
  • Liwei Zou
  • Lixia Zhang


The mechanisms of short-lived precipitation extremes in boreal summer over the middle–lower reaches of the Yangtze River Basin (MLYRB) during 1961–2014 are explored using gridded observational and reanalysis datasets. Daily precipitation extremes are defined by the 75th and 95th percentiles and identified for selected regions in the MLYRB. Moisture budget analysis is utilized to quantify the major factors responsible for the variability of extreme precipitation events. Then the atmospheric variables are composited according to these extreme events, to illustrate the temporal evolution of the corresponding synoptic-scale structures. The results show that moisture flux convergence plays a dominant role in the variations of extreme rainfall for both percentile events, and the contribution of evaporation is not evident. Moreover, the dynamic component associated with changes in atmospheric circulation makes a larger contribution than the nonlinear component, followed by the thermodynamic component, owing to changes in specific humidity. The moisture transport pathways increase with increasing magnitude of extreme rainfall intensity. Circulation field anomalies move into the MLYRB during the onset of precipitation extremes for both percentile cases, with stronger anomalies occurring for the 95th percentile cases. Furthermore, the water vapor fluxes transported from the Northwest Pacific are pronounced during the 95th percentile events. A cross-section of specific humidity and vertical gradient of equivalent potential temperature further indicates that dynamic properties play a crucial role in the development of extreme precipitation events linked with quasi-stationary frontal activities across the MLYRB during the past few decades. Composites of Eady growth rate and outgoing longwave radiation anomalies reveal that extratropical cyclones passing through the MLYRB produce a large amount of extreme rainfall by synoptic disturbance.


Extreme precipitation event Moisture budget analysis Atmospheric variables Eady growth rate 



We thank two anonymous reviewers for their professional comments and suggestions that were greatly helpful for further improvement of the quality of this manuscript. This study is jointly supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (Key Program) (Nos. 41630532; 41605057; 41330423), Natural Science Foundation and Sci-tech development project of Shandong Province (No. ZR2018MD014; J15LH10), International Partnership Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. 134111KYSB20160031), R&D Special Fund for Public Welfare Industry (meteorology) (No. GYHY201506012), Project funded by China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (No. 119100582H; 1191005830), and the Young Academic Backbone in Heze University (No. XY14BS05). Helpful comments and suggestions from Dr. Tianjun. Zhou and Bo Wu are appreciated.

Supplementary material

382_2019_4687_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (5 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 5101 KB)


  1. Ahern M, Kovats RS, Wilkinson P, Few R, Matthies F (2005) Global health impacts of floods: epidemiologic evidence. Epidemiol Rev 27:36–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alexander LV, Zhang X, Peterson TC, Caesar J, Gleason B, Klein Tank A, Haylock M, Collins D, Trewin B, Rahimzadeh F (2006) Global observed changes in daily climate extremes of temperature and precipitation, J Geophys Res. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ali S, Dan L, Fu CB, Khan F (2015) Twenty first century climatic and hydrological changes over Upper Indus Basin of Himalayan region of Pakistan, Environ Res Lett. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Allan RP, Soden BJ (2008) Atmospheric warming and the amplification of precipitation extremes. Science 321:1481–1484CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ban N, Schmidli J, Schär C (2015) Heavy precipitation in a changing climate: Does short-term summer precipitation increase faster? Geophys Res Lett 42:1165–1172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bretherton FP (1966) Critical layer instability in baroclinic flows. Q J Roy Meteor Soc 92:325–334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bueh C, Shi N, Ji L, Wei J, Tao S (2008) Features of the EAP events on the medium-range evolution process and the mid-and high-latitude Rossby wave activities during the Meiyu period. Chin Sci Bull 53:610–623CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chang CP, Zhang Y, Li T (2000) Interannual and interdecadal variations of the East Asian summer monsoon and tropical Pacific SSTs. Part I: Roles of the subtropical ridge. J Climate 13:4310–4325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chen Y, Zhai P (2015) Synoptic-scale precursors of the East Asia/Pacific teleconnection pattern responsible for persistent extreme precipitation in the Yangtze River Valley. Q J Roy Meteor Soc 141:1389–1403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chen Y, Zhai P (2016) Mechanisms for concurrent low-latitude circulation anomalies responsible for persistent extreme precipitation in the Yangtze River Valley. Clim Dyn 47:989–1006CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chen G, Iwasaki T, Qin H, Sha W (2014a) Evaluation of the warm-season diurnal variability over East Asia in recent reanalyses JRA-55, ERA-interim, NCEP CFSR, and NASA MERRA. J Clim 27:5517–5537CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chen YD, Zhang Q, Xiao M, Singh VP, Leung Y, Jiang L (2014b) Precipitation extremes in the Yangtze River Basin, China: regional frequency and spatial–temporal patterns. Theor Appl Climatol 116:447–461CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chou C, Lan C (2012) Changes in the annual range of precipitation under global warming. J Climate 25:222–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ding Y (1992) Summer monsoon rainfalls in China. J Meteorol Soc Jpn Ser II 70:373–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ding Y, Sun Y, Wang Z, Zhu Y, Song Y (2009) Inter-decadal variation of the summer precipitation in China and its association with decreasing Asian summer monsoon Part II: possible causes. Int J Climatol 29:1926–1944CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Donat MG, Lowry AL, Alexander LV, O’Gorman PA, Maher N (2016) More extreme precipitation in the world’ s dry and wet regions. Nat Clim Change 6:508–513CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Eady ET (1949) Long waves and cyclone waves. Tellus 1:33–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Easterling DR, Meehl GA, Parmesan C, Changnon SA, Karl TR, Mearns LO (2000) Climate extremes: observations, modeling, and impacts, Science 289:2068CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Field CB, Barros VR, Dokken DJ, Mach KJ, Mastrandrea MD, Bilir TE, Chatterjee M, Ebi KL, Estrada YO, Genova RC (2014) IPCC, 2014: climate change 2014: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part A: Global and sectoral aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USAGoogle Scholar
  20. Frei A, Kunkel KE, Matonse A (2015) The seasonal nature of extreme hydrological events in the northeastern United States. J Hydrometeorol 16:2065–2085CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gao T, Xie L (2016) Spatiotemporal changes in precipitation extremes over Yangtze River basin, China, considering the rainfall shift in the late 1970s. Glob Planet Change 147:106–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gao T, Xie L, Liu B (2016) Association of extreme precipitation over the Yangtze River Basin with global air-sea heat fluxes and moisture transport. Int J Climatol 36:3020–3038CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Georgakakos KP (1986) On the design of national, real-time warning systems with capability for site-specific, flash-flood forecasts. B Am Meteorol Soc 67:1233–1239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gong DY, Ho CH (2002) Shift in the summer rainfall over the Yangtze River valley in the late 1970s. Geophys Res Lett 29:1436. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Guo J, Guo S, Li Y, Chen H, Li T (2013) Spatial and temporal variation of extreme precipitation indices in the Yangtze River basin, China. Stoch Env Res Risk A 27:459–475CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Harada Y, Kamahori H, Kobayashi C, Endo H, Kobayashi S, Ota Y, Onoda H, Onogi K, Miyaoka K, Takahashi A, K (2016) The Jra-55 Reanalysis: Representation of Atmospheric Circulation and Climate Variability. J Meteorol Soc Jpn Ser II 94:269–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hogg WD, Hogg AR (2010) Historical trends in short duration rainfall in the Greater Toronto Area, report for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
  28. Hoskins BJ, Ambrizzi T (1993) Rossby wave propagation on a realistic longitudinally varying flow. J Atmos Sci 50:1661–1671CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hoskins BJ, Valdes PJ (1990) On the existence of storm-tracks. J Atmos Sci 47:1854–1864CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hsu PC, Lee JY, Ha KJ (2016) Influence of boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation on rainfall extremes in southern China. Int J Climatol 36:1403–1412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hua W, Chen H, Li X (2015) Effects of future land use change on the regional climate in China. Sci China Earth Sci 58:1840–1848CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jin D, Guan Z (2017) Summer rainfall seesaw between Hetao and the Middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and its relationship with the North Atlantic Oscillation. J Clim 30:6629–6643CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kamae Y, Watanabe M, Kimoto M, Shiogama H (2014) Summertime land-sea thermal contrast and atmospheric circulation over East Asia in a warming climate—Part II: Importance of CO2-induced continental warming. Clim Dynam 43:2569–2583CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kendon EJ, Blenkinsop S, Fowler HJ (2018) When will we detect changes in short-duration precipitation extremes? J Clim 31:2945–2964CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kobayashi S, Ota Y, Harada Y, Ebita A, Moriya M, Onoda H, Onogi K, Kamahori H, Kobayashi C, Endo H, Miyaoka K, Takahashi A, K (2015) The Jra-55 reanalysis: general specifications and basic characteristics. J Meteorol Soc Jpn Ser II 93:5–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lenderink G, Van Meijgaard E (2008) Increase in hourly precipitation extremes beyond expectations from temperature changes. Nat Geosci 1:511–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Li T (2012) Synoptic and climatic aspects of tropical cyclogenesis in western North Pacific. Cyclones: formation, triggers and control, Oouchi K, Fudeyasu H (eds), Nova Science Publishers, Inc., Hauppauge, pp 61–94Google Scholar
  38. Li X, Lu R (2017) Extratropical Factors Affecting the Variability in Summer Precipitation over the Yangtze River Basin, China. J Clim 30:8357–8374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Li RC, Zhou W (2015) Multiscale control of summertime persistent heavy precipitation events over South China in association with synoptic, intraseasonal, and low-frequency background. Clim Dynam 45:1043–1057CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Li H, Dai A, Zhou T, Lu J (2010) Responses of East Asian summer monsoon to historical SST and atmospheric forcing during 1950–2000. Clim Dyn 34:501–514. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Li X, Li J, Li Y (2015) Recent winter precipitation increase in the Middle-Lower Yangtze River Valley since the Late 1970s: a response to warming in the Tropical Indian Ocean. J Clim 28:3857–3879CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Li T, Bin W, Bo WU, Tianjun Z, Chih-Pei CHANG, R. Z (2017a) Theories on formation of an anomalous anticyclone in Western North Pacific during El Niño: a review. J Meteorol Res 31:987–1006CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Li P, Zhou T, Chen X (2017b) Water vapor transport for spring persistent rains over southeastern China based on five reanalysis datasets. Clim Dyn. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Li C, Tian Q, Yu R, Zhou B, Xia J, Burke C, Dong B, Tett SF, Freychet N, Lott F (2018) Attribution of extreme precipitation in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River during May 2016. Environ Res Lett 13:014015CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Liebmann B, Smith CA (1996) Description of a complete (interpolated) outgoing longwave radiation dataset. Bull Am Meteor Soc 77:1275–1277Google Scholar
  46. Lu R (2000) Anomalies in the tropics associated with the heavy rainfall in East Asia during the summer of 1998. Adv Atmos Sci 17:205–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lu R, Lin Z (2009) Role of subtropical precipitation anomalies in maintaining the summertime meridional teleconnection over the western North Pacific and East Asia. J Clim 22:2058–2072CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Luo Y, Chen Y (2015) Investigation of the predictability and physical mechanisms of an extreme-rainfall-producing mesoscale convective system along the Meiyu front in East China: an ensemble approach. J Geophys Res Atmos 120:510–593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Luo M, Lau N (2017) Heat waves in southern China: synoptic behavior, long-term change, and urbanization effects. J Clim 30:703–720CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ma S, Zhou T, Dai A, Han Z (2015) Observed changes in the distributions of daily precipitation frequency and amount over China from 1960 to 2013. J Clim 28:6960–6978CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Ma S, Zhou T, Stone DA, Polson D, Dai A, Stott PA, von Storch H, Qian Y, Burke C, Wu P (2017) Detectable anthropogenic shift toward heavy precipitation over eastern China. J Clim 30:1381–1396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Marquardt Collow AB, Bosilovich MG, Koster RD (2016) Large-scale influences on summertime extreme precipitation in the Northeastern United States. J Hydrometeorol 17:3045–3061CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Matonse AH, Frei A (2013) A seasonal shift in the frequency of extreme hydrological events in Southern New York State. J Clim 26:9577–9593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Min S, Zhang X, Zwiers FW, Hegerl GC (2011) Human contribution to more-intense precipitation extremes. Nature 470:378–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Ninomiya K (1984) Characteristics of Baiu front as a predominant subtropical front in the summer northern hemisphere. J Meteorol Soc Jpn Ser II 62:880–894CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. O’Gorman PA, Schneider T (2009) The physical basis for increases in precipitation extremes in simulations of 21st-century climate change. Proc Natl Acad Sci 106:14773–14777CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Pall P, Allen MR, Stone DA (2007) Testing the Clausius–Clapeyron constraint on changes in extreme precipitation under CO2 warming. Clim Dynam 28:351–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pathiraja S, Westra S, Sharma A (2012) Why continuous simulation? The role of antecedent moisture in design flood estimation, Water Resour Res. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Peng D, Zhou T (2017) Why was the arid and semiarid northwest China getting wetter in the recent decades? J Geophys Res Atmos. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Rayner NA, Parker DE, Horton EB, Folland CK, Alexander LV, Rowell DP, Kent EC, Kaplan A (2003) Global analyses of sea surface temperature, sea ice, and night marine air temperature since the late nineteenth century. J Geophys Res Atmos 108:4407. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Scaife AA, Spangehl T, Fereday DR, Cubasch U, Langematz U, Akiyoshi H, Bekki S, Braesicke P, Butchart N, Chipperfield MP (2012) Climate change projections and stratosphere-troposphere interaction. Clim Dyn 38:2089–2097CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Seager R, Naik N, Vecchi GA (2010) Thermodynamic and dynamic mechanisms for large-scale changes in the hydrological cycle in response to global warming. J Clim 23:4651–4668CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Stephan CC, Klingaman NP, Vidale PL, Turner AG, Demory M, Guo L (2017) A comprehensive analysis of coherent rainfall patterns in China and potential drivers. Part I: Interannual variability. Clim Dynam. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Tao SY, Chen LX (1987) A review of recent research on the east Asian summer monsoon in China. In: Chang CP, Krishnamurti TN (eds) Review of monsoon meteorology. Oxford Univ. Press, New York, pp 60–92Google Scholar
  65. Tomita T, Yamaura T, Hashimoto T (2011) Interannual variability of the Baiu season near Japan evaluated from the equivalent potential temperature. J Meteorol Soc Jpn Ser II 89:517–537CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Trenberth KE (2011) Changes in precipitation with climate change. Clim Res 47:123–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wang H, Chen H (2012) Climate control for southeastern China moisture and precipitation: Indian or East Asian monsoon? J Geophys Res Atmos. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wang L, Gu W (2016) The eastern China flood of June 2015 and its causes. Sci Bull 61:178–184. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wang B, Wu R, Lau KM (2001) Interannual variability of the Asian summer monsoon: contrasts between the Indian and the western North Pacific-East Asian monsoons. J Clim 14:4073–4090CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wang B, Wu Z, Li J, Liu J, Chang C, Ding Y, Wu G (2008a) How to measure the strength of the East Asian summer monsoon. J Clim 21:4449–4463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Wang B, Bao Q, Hoskins B, Wu G, Liu Y (2008b) Tibetan Plateau warming and precipitation changes in East Asia. Geophys Res Lett 35:L15711. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Wang Z, Duan A, Wu G (2014) Time-lagged impact of spring sensible heat over the Tibetan Plateau on the summer rainfall anomaly in East China: case studies using the WRF model. Clim Dynam 42:2885–2898CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wang N, Zeng X, Guo W, Chen C, You W, Zheng Y, Zhu J (2018) Quantitative diagnosis of moisture sources and transport pathways for summer precipitation over the mid-lower Yangtze River basin. J Hydrol 559:252–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Wei J, Dirmeyer PA, Bosilovich MG, Wu R (2012) Water vapor sources for Yangtze River Valley rainfall: climatology, variability, and implications for rainfall forecasting. J Geophys Res Atmos. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Westra S, Fowler HJ, Evans JP, Alexander LV, Berg P, Johnson F, Kendon EJ, Lenderink G, Roberts NM (2014) Future changes to the intensity and frequency of short-duration extreme rainfall. Rev Geophys 52:522–555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Wu J, Gao XJ (2013) A gridded daily observation dataset over China region and comparison with the other datasets. Chin J Geophys 56:1102–1111. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Wu H, Zhai P, Chen Y (2016) A comprehensive classification of anomalous circulation patterns responsible for persistent precipitation extremes in South China. J Meteorol Res 30:483–495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Xie S, Kosaka Y, Du Y, Hu K, Chowdary JS, Huang G (2016) Indo-western Pacific ocean capacitor and coherent climate anomalies in post-ENSO summer: a review. Adv Atmos Sci 33:411–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Yu RC, Zhou TJ (2007) Seasonality and three-dimensional structure of the interdecadal change in East Asian monsoon. J Clim 20:5344–5355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Yu R, Wang B, Zhou T (2004) Tropospheric cooling and summer monsoon weakening trend over East Asia. Geophys Res Lett 31:L22212. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Zhai P, Zhang X, Wan H, Pan X (2005) Trends in total precipitation and frequency of daily precipitation extremes over China. J Clim 18:1096–1108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Zhang Y, Ding Y, Li Q (2012) A climatology of extratropical cyclones over East Asia during 1958–2001. Acta Meteorol Sin 26:261–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Zhang X, Zwiers FW, Li G, Wan H, Cannon AJ (2017a) Complexity in estimating past and future extreme short-duration rainfall. Nat Geosci 10:255–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Zhang W, Zhou T, Zhang L (2017b) Wetting and greening Tibetan Plateau in early summer in recent decades. J Geophys Res Atmos. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Zhao Y, Xu X, Chen B, Wang Y (2016) The upstream “strong signals” of the water vapor transport over the Tibetan Plateau during a heavy rainfall event in the Yangtze River Basin. Adv Atmos Sci 33:1343–1350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Zhou T, Yu R (2005) Atmospheric water vapor transport associated with typical anomalous summer rainfall patterns in China. J Geophys Res 110:D8104. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. 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 GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of geosciencesShanxi Normal UniversityLinfenPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.College of Urban ConstructionHeze UniversityHezePeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.CAS Key Laboratory of Regional Climate-Environment Research for Temperate East Asia, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations