Climatic characteristics of East Asian tropical monsoon depressions

  • Yi Hu
  • Min WenEmail author
  • Lun Li
  • Renhe Zhang
Original Paper


The climatic characteristics of 260 East Asian tropical monsoon depressions (EAMDs) are investigated using the ERA-Interim reanalysis dataset and a tracking dataset of global monsoon low-pressure systems. Most EAMDs form over the South China Sea (SCS) and the western tropical Pacific Ocean in July–October and have an average lifetime of 10 days. The vertical structures of EAMDs are usually upright or tilt slightly westward with height. The warm-over-cold thermal structure is a distinctive characteristic of EAMDs and two potential vorticity (PV) centers are related to the warm core in the upper level and the specific humidity center in the lower level, respectively. We divided the EAMDs into four groups: eastward-moving, westward-moving, turning, and northwestward-moving EAMDs. Most of the eastward-moving EAMDs form over the SCS in May and June, whereas the westward-moving EAMDs form over both the SCS and the western Pacific Ocean in July–October. The turning and northwestward-moving EAMDs are mainly generated over the western Pacific Ocean and have longer lifetimes. The structures of the eastward-moving and turning EAMDs show common characteristics in each stage. Their vertical structures change from upright in the developing and peak stages to northeast tilting with height in the attenuating stage, especially for the specific humidity. By contrast, the structures of westward- and northwestward-moving EAMDs show little change during their lifetime. They are symmetrical relative to the vertical axis of the EAMDs over their whole lifetime and only vary in strength.



The authors thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for providing constructive comments that improved the quality of this paper.

Funding information

This study was jointly supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant 41775060 and CAMS Funds for the Development of Science and Technology under Grant 2018KJ029.

Supplementary material

704_2019_2835_MOESM1_ESM.doc (26 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 26 kb)


  1. Beattie JC, Elsberry RL (2012) Western North Pacific monsoon depression formation. Weather Forecast 27:1413–1432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cohen NY, Boos WR (2016) Perspectives on moist baroclinic instability: implications for the growth of monsoon depressions. J Atmos Sci 73(4):1767–1788CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dee DP, Uppala SM, Simmons AJ et al (2011) The ERA-Interim reanalysis: configuration and performance of the data assimilation system. Q J R Meteorol Soc 137(656):553–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Eliot J (1884) Account of southwest monsoon storms generated in the Bay of Bengal during 1877–1881. Mem Ind Met Dept 2:217–448Google Scholar
  5. Frank WM (1977) The structure and energetics of the tropical cyclone II: dynamics and energetics. Mon Weather Rev 105:1136–1150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Godbole RV (1977) The composite structure of the monsoon depression. Tellus 29:25–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gray WM (1981) Recent advances in tropical cyclone research from rawinsonde composite analysis. WMO Program on Research in Tropical Meteorology. 407ppGoogle Scholar
  8. Huang RH, Huangfu JL, Wu L, Feng T, Chen GH (2016) Research on the interannual and interdecadal variabilities of the monsoon trough and their impacts on tropical cyclone genesis over the western North Pacific. J Trop Meteorol 32:767–785 (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  9. Hurley JV, Boos WR (2015) A global climatology of monsoon low-pressure systems. Q J R Meteorol Soc 141:1049–1064CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Jiang JY, Jiang JX, Bu YL, Liu NQ (2007) Heavy rainfall associated with a monsoon depression in South Asia: structure analysis. Acta Meteorol Sin 4:537–549 (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  11. Kong Q, Ghulam R, Zhao SX (2005) Study of the structure, vortex budget and moisture supply of a monsoon depression producing heavy rainfall in South Asia. Clim Environ Res 3:526–542 (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  12. Krishnamurti TN, Kanamitsu M, Godbole R, Chang CB, Carr F, Chow JH (1975) Study of a monsoon depression(I): synoptic structure. J Meteor Soc Jpn 53:227–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lee HT (2014) Climate algorithm theoretical basis document (C-ATBD): outgoing longwave radiation (OLR)—daily. NOAA’s Climate Data Record (CDR) Program.CDR-ATBD-0526Google Scholar
  14. Li L, Zhang RH, Wen M (2014) Effect of the atmospheric heat source on the development and eastward movement of the Tibetan Plateau vortices. Tellus A 66:24451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Liang BQ, Liu SC (1988) The structure evolution, vortex budget of South China Sea monsoon depression. Acta Oceanol Sin 5:626–634 (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  16. Liang BQ, Zou ME, Li Y, Lin B (1985) Characteristic of the activities and structure of monsoon depression over the South China Sea. J Trop Oceanogr 4:60–67 (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  17. Liang BQ, Lei CH, Ouyang H (1993) The analysis of the activities and precipitation of monsoon depressions over the South China Sea. Sun Yatsen Univ Forum 1:17–23 (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  18. Qiu WY, Wu LG (2015) Influence of North-West Pacific monsoon depression on tropical cyclogenesis. J Meteorol 3:237–247. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  19. Rong GX, Peng H (1985) On the composite structure of monsoon depressions in the South China Sea and the precipitation produced. J Trop Oceanogr 4:323–329 (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  20. Sikka DR (1977) Some aspects of the life history, structure and movement of monsoon depressions. Pure Appl Geophys 115:1501–1529CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sikka DR (2006) A study on the monsoon low pressure systems over the Indian region and their relationship with drought and excess monsoon seasonal rainfall, COLA Technical Report 217. Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, Calverton 145ppGoogle Scholar
  22. Yoon JH, Chen TC (2005) Water vapor budget of the Indian monsoon depression. Tellus A 57:770–782CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Yoon JH, Huang WR (2012) Indian monsoon depression: climatology and variability. Modern Climatology, InTech chap.2, pp. 45–72Google Scholar
  24. Zhang X, Wu L, Huangfu JL, Fan GZ, Huang RH (2017) Seasonal and interannual variability of the Western North Pacific monsoon trough and its relationship to large-scale environmental factors. Clim Environ Res 22:418–434 (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  25. Zhao SX, Mills GA (1991) A study of a monsoon depression bringing record rainfall over Australia. Part II: synoptic–diagnostic description. Mon Weather Rev 119:2074–2094CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Zou ME, Liang BQ (1984) A study of the monsoon depression in contrast with the typhoon over the South China Sea. Acta Sci Natur Univ Sunyatseni 2:91–99 (In Chinese)Google Scholar

Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Severe WeatherChinese Academy of Meteorological SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological DisastersNanjing University of Information Science and TechnologyNanjingChina
  3. 3.Institute of Atmospheric SciencesFudan UniversityShanghaiChina

Personalised recommendations