Climate Dynamics

, Volume 53, Issue 11, pp 6681–6697 | Cite as

Roles of land-surface properties and terrains on Maritime Continent rainfall and its seasonal evolution

  • Tuantuan Zhang
  • Chi-Yung Tam
  • Xingwen JiangEmail author
  • Song Yang
  • Ngar-Cheung Lau
  • Junwen Chen
  • Charoon Laohalertchai


The Maritime Continent (MC) is characterized by a seasonal evolution of rainfall distinct from other regions, due to its unique land–sea distribution and topography. In this study, the roles of surface properties and terrains in controlling the regional climatological rainfall were investigated, based on general circulation model experiments. Results show that the existence of terrain can increase the MC land (MCL) rainfall mainly through its dynamical lifting effect, but otherwise has only moderate influence on rainfall over the MC ocean (MCO). On the other hand, the impact of MC land–sea distribution on the regional rainfall is more seasonally dependent. When replacing the MC flat-land with ocean, rainfall is significantly increased over both MCL and MCO during boreal summer-to-fall, but not in the winter-to-spring season. Further inspection showed that by eliminating the MC flat-land, there is enhanced atmospheric water vapor and convective instability in the summer-to-fall period, contributing to a dramatic increase in precipitation. On the other hand, changes in convective instability and atmospheric water vapor over the MCL act to counteract each other, leading to an only moderate change in rainfall during boreal winter-to-spring. The model-based results suggest that this seasonally dependent influence of the MC flat-land on regional climate mean rainfall is not determined by its modulation on the diurnal cycle. Our results also suggest a larger sensitivity of model bias in representing land–sea distribution/fraction over the MC region during the dry season (i.e. boreal summer) than in the wet season (i.e. boreal winter).


Maritime Continent Roles of land–sea distribution and terrains Seasonally dependent features 



The authors thank the anomalous reviewers for their constructive comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. This study was jointly supported by the Vice-Chancellor’s Discretionary Fund of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (4930744), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant 41661144019). The appointment of Ngar-Cheung Lau at The Chinese University of Hong Kong is partially supported by the AXA Research Fund.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Environment, Energy and SustainabilityThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  2. 2.Earth System Science ProgrammeThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  3. 3.Institute of Plateau MeteorologyChina Meteorological AdministrationChengduChina
  4. 4.School of Atmospheric SciencesSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  5. 5.Guangdong Province Key Laboratory for Climate Change and Natural Disaster StudiesSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  6. 6.Southern Laboratory of Ocean Science and Engineering (Guangdong, Zhuhai)ZhuhaiChina
  7. 7.Department of Geography and Resource ManagementThe Chinese University of Hong KongSha TinChina
  8. 8.Thai Meteorological DepartmentBangkokThailand

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