Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 108, Issue 1–2, pp 119–133 | Cite as

Interdecadal change in the relationship of southern China summer rainfall with tropical Indo-Pacific SST

  • Renguang Wu
  • Song Yang
  • Zhiping Wen
  • Gang Huang
  • Kaiming Hu
Original Paper


The present study investigates the interdecadal change in the relationship between southern China (SC) summer rainfall and tropical Indo-Pacific sea surface temperature (SST). It is found that the pattern of tropical Indo-Pacific SST anomalies associated with SC summer rainfall variability tends to be opposite between the 1950–1960s and the 1980-1990s. Above-normal SC rainfall corresponds to warmer SST in the tropical southeastern Indian Ocean (SEIO) and cooler SST in the equatorial central Pacific (ECP) during the 1950–1960s but opposite SST anomalies in these regions during the 1980–1990s. A pronounced difference is also found in anomalous atmospheric circulation linking SEIO SST and SC rainfall between the two periods. In the 1950–1960s, two anomalous vertical circulations are present between ascent over SEIO and ascent over SC, with a common branch of descent over the South China Sea that is accompanied by an anomalous low-level anticyclone. In the 1980–1990s, however, a single anomalous vertical circulation directly connects ascent over SC to descent over SEIO. The change in the rainfall–SST relationship is likely related to a change in the magnitude of SEIO SST forcing and a change in the atmospheric response to the SST forcing due to different mean states. A larger SEIO SST forcing coupled with a stronger and more extensive western North Pacific subtropical high in recent decades induce circulation anomalies reaching higher latitudes, influencing SC directly. Present analysis shows that the SEIO and ECP SST anomalies can contribute to SC summer rainfall variability both independently and in concert. In comparison, there are more cases of concerted contributions due to the co-variability between the Indian and Pacific Ocean SSTs.


Western North Pacific Western North Pacific Subtropical High Southern China Equatorial Central Pacific Southern China Summer Rainfall 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank three anonymous reviewers for their comments. RW acknowledge the support of a Direct Grant from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (2021090). HG and KH are supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (grants 40890155, U0733002, and 40810059005).


  1. Annamalai H, Xie S-P, McCreary JP, Murtugudde R (2005) Impact of Indian Ocean sea surface temperature on developing El Niño. J Climate 18:302–319Google Scholar
  2. Chang C-P, Zhang Y-S, Li T (2000) Interannual and interdecadal variations of the East Asian summer monsoon and tropical Pacific SSTs. Part II: Meridional structure of the monsoon. J Climate 13:4326–4340Google Scholar
  3. Chen L-T, Wu R (2000) Interannual and decadal variations of snow cover over Qinghai-Xizang Plateau and their relationships to summer monsoon rainfall in China. Adv Atmos Sci 17:18–30Google Scholar
  4. Chen M, Xie P, Janowiak JE, Arkin PA (2002) Global land precipitation: A 50-yr monthly analysis based on gauge observations. J Hydrometeor 3:249–266Google Scholar
  5. Ding R-Q, Ha K-J, Li J-P (2010) Interdecadal shift in the relationship between the East Asian summer monsoon and the tropical Indian Ocean. Clim Dyn 34:1059–1071. doi: 10.1007/s00382-009-0555-2 Google Scholar
  6. Hu Z-Z (1997) Interdecadal variability of summer climate over East Asia and its association with 500 hPa height and global sea surface temperature. J Geophys Res 102:19403–19412Google Scholar
  7. Huang B, Kinter JL III (2002) Interannual variability in the tropical Indian Ocean. J Geophys Res 103:3199. doi: 10.1029/2001JC001278 Google Scholar
  8. Huang R-H, Sun F-Y (1992) Impacts of the tropical western Pacific on the East Asian summer monsoon. J Meteor Soc Japan 70:243–256Google Scholar
  9. Huang R-H, Wu Y-F (1989) The influence of ENSO on the summer climate change in China and its mechanism. Adv Atmos Sci 6:21–32Google Scholar
  10. Huang R-H, Zhou L-T, Chen W (2003) The progress of recent studies on the variabilities of the East Asian monsoon and their causes. Adv Atmos Sci 20:55–69Google Scholar
  11. Inoue T, Matsumoto J (2004) A comparison of summer sea level pressure over East Eurasia between NCEP-NCAR reanalysis and ERA-40 for the period 1960–99. J Meteor Soc Japan 82:951–958Google Scholar
  12. Kalnay E et al (1996) NCEP/NCAR 40-year reanalysis project. Bull Amer Meteor Soc 77:437–471Google Scholar
  13. Klein SA, Soden BJ, Lau N-C (1999) Remote sea surface temperature variations during ENSO: evidence for a tropical atmospheric bridge. J Climate 12:917–932Google Scholar
  14. Kripalani RH, Kulkarni A (1997a) Climatic impact of El Niño/La Niña on the Indian Monsoon: a new perspective. Weather 52:39–46Google Scholar
  15. Kripalani RH, Kulkarni A (1997b) Rainfall variability over Southeast Asia-connections with Indian Monsoon and ENSO extremes: new perspectives. Int J Climatol 17:1155–1168Google Scholar
  16. Kripalani RH, Kulkarni A (2001) Monsoon rainfall variations and tele-connections over South and East Asia. Int J Climatol 21:603–616Google Scholar
  17. Lau K-M, Weng H-Y (2001) Coherent modes of global SST and summer rainfall over China: an assessment of the regional impacts of the 1997–98 El Niño. J Climate 14:1294–1308Google Scholar
  18. Li J-P, Zeng Q-C (2002) A unified monsoon index. Geophys Res Lett 29:1274. doi: 10.1029/2001GL013874 Google Scholar
  19. Lindzen RS, Nigam N (1987) On the role of sea surface temperature gradients in forcing low-level winds and convergence in the tropics. J Atmos Sci 44:2418–2436Google Scholar
  20. Mao J-Y, Chan JCL, Wu G-X (2010) Interannual variations of early summer monsoon rainfall over South China under different PDO background. Int J Climatol. doi: 10.1002/joc.2129
  21. Saji NH, Goswami BN, Vinayachandran PN, Yamagata T (1999) A dipole mode in the tropical Indian Ocean. Nature 401:360–363Google Scholar
  22. Smith TM, Reynolds RW, Peterson TC, Lawrimore J (2008) Improvements to NOAA’s historical merged land-ocean surface temperature analysis (1880–2006). J Climate 21:2283–2296Google Scholar
  23. Wang B, Wu R, Li T (2003) Atmosphere-warm ocean interaction and its impacts on Asian-Australian monsoon variation. J Climate 16:1195–1121Google Scholar
  24. Weng H-Y, Lau K-M, Xue Y (1999) Multi-scale summer rainfall variability over China and its long-term link to global sea surface temperature variability. J Meteor Soc Japan 77:845–857Google Scholar
  25. Weng H, Wu G-X, Liu Y-M, Behera SK, Yamagata T (2009) Anomalous summer climate in China influenced by the tropical Indo-Pacific Oceans. Clim Dyn. doi: 10.1007/s00382-009-0658-9
  26. Wu R, Kirtman BP (2007) Observed relationship of spring and summer East Asian rainfall with winter and spring Eurasian snow. J Climate 20:1285–1304Google Scholar
  27. Wu T-W, Qian Z-A (2003) The relation between the Tibetan winter snow and the Asian summer monsoon and rainfall: an observational investigation. J Climate 16:2038–2051Google Scholar
  28. Wu R, Wang B (2002) A contrast of the East Asian summer monsoon-ENSO relationship between 1962–77 and 1978–93. J Climate 15:3266–3279Google Scholar
  29. Wu R, Yeh S-W (2010) A further study of the tropical Indian Ocean asymmetric mode in boreal spring. J Geophys Res 115:D08101. doi: 10.1029/2009JD012999 Google Scholar
  30. Wu R, Hu Z-Z, Kirtman BP (2003) Evolution of ENSO-related rainfall anomalies in East Asia. J Climate 16:3742–3758Google Scholar
  31. Wu R, Kinter JL III, Kirtman BP (2005) Discrepancy of interdecadal changes in the Asian region among the NCEP-NCAR reanalysis, objective analyses, and observations. J Climate 18:3048–3067Google Scholar
  32. Wu R, Kirtman BP, Krishnamurthy V (2008) An asymmetric mode of tropical Indian Ocean rainfall variability in boreal spring. J Geophy Res 113:D05104. doi: 10.1029/2007JD009316 Google Scholar
  33. Xiao Z-N, Yan H-M, Li C-Y (2002) Relationship between dipole oscillation of SSTA of Indian Ocean region and precipitation and temperature in China. J Trop Meteor 8:121–131Google Scholar
  34. Xie P, Arkin PA (1997) Global precipitation: a 17-year monthly analysis based on gauge observations, satellite estimates, and numerical model outputs. Bull Amer Meteor Soc 78:2539–2558Google Scholar
  35. Xie S-P, Annamalai H, Schott FA, McCreary JP (2002) Structure and mechanisms of South Indian Ocean climate variability. J Climate 15:864–878Google Scholar
  36. Yang S, Lau K-M (1998) Influences of sea surface temperature and ground wetness on Asian summer monsoon. J Climate 11:3230–3246Google Scholar
  37. Yang S, Lau K-M (2006) Interannual variability of the Asian monsoon. In: Wang B (ed) the Asian monsoon. Springer, New York, pp 259–293Google Scholar
  38. Yang S, Xu L (1994) Linkage between Eurasian winter snow cover and regional Chinese summer rainfall. Int J Climatol 14:739–750Google Scholar
  39. Yang S, Lau K-M, Kim K-M (2002) Variations of the East Asian jet stream and Asian-Pacific-American winter climate anomalies. J Climate 15:306–325Google Scholar
  40. Zhang R-H, Sumi A, Kimoto M (1996) Impact of El Niño on the East Asian monsoon: a diagnostic study of the 86/87 and 91/92 events. J Meteor Soc Japan 74:49–62Google Scholar
  41. Zhang R-H, Sumi A, Kimoto M (1999) A diagnostic study of the impact of El Niño on the precipitation in China. Adv Atmos Sci 16:229–241Google Scholar
  42. Zhao P, Zhou Z-J, Liu J-P (2007) Variability of Tibetan spring snow and its associations with the hemispheric extratropical circulation and East Asian summer monsoon rainfall: an observational investigation. J Climate 20:3942–3955Google Scholar
  43. Zhu Y-M, Yang X-Q, Chen X-Y, Zhao S-S, Sun X-G (2007) Interdecadal variation of the relationship between ENSO and summer interannual climate variability in China. J Trop Meteorol 13(2):132–136Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Renguang Wu
    • 1
    • 5
  • Song Yang
    • 2
  • Zhiping Wen
    • 3
  • Gang Huang
    • 4
  • Kaiming Hu
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Space and Earth Information Science and Department of PhysicsThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong
  2. 2.Climate Prediction Center, NOAACamp SpringsUSA
  3. 3.Center for Monsoon and Environment ResearchSun Yat-Sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  4. 4.Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  5. 5.Institute of Space and Earth Information Science, Fok Ying Tung Remote Sensing Science BuildingThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina

Personalised recommendations