Journal of Meteorological Research

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 400–415 | Cite as

Impact of Surface Potential Vorticity Density Forcing over the Tibetan Plateau on the South China Extreme Precipitation in January 2008. Part I: Data Analysis

  • Tingting Ma
  • Guoxiong Wu
  • Yimin LiuEmail author
  • Zhihong Jiang
  • Jiahui Yu
Special Collection on the Third Tibetan Plateau Atmospheric Science Experiment (TIPEX-III)


The external source/sink of potential vorticity (PV) is the original driving force for the atmospheric circulation. The relationship between surface PV generation and surface PV density forcing is discussed in detail in this paper. Moreover, a case study of the extreme winter freezing rain/snow storm over South China in January 2008 is performed, and the surface PV density forcing over the eastern flank of the Tibetan Plateau (TP) has been found to significantly affect the precipitation over South China in this case. The TP generated PV propagated eastward in the middle troposphere. The associated zonal advection of positive absolute vorticity resulted in the increasing of cyclonic relative vorticity in the downstream region of the TP. Ascending air and convergence in the lower troposphere developed, which gave rise to the development of the southerly wind. This favored the increasing of negative meridional absolute vorticity advection in the lower troposphere, which provided a large-scale circulation background conducive to ascending motion such that the absolute vorticity advection increased with height. Consequently, the ascending air further strengthened the southerly wind and the vertical gradient of absolute vorticity advection between the lower and middle troposphere in turn. Under such a situation, the enhanced ascending, together with the moist air transported by the southerly wind, formed the extreme winter precipitation in January 2008 over South China.

Key words

potential vorticity density (PVD) absolute vorticity advection Tibetan Plateau winter precipitation 


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The authors thank the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) and GES DISC for providing the MERRA-2 data.


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Copyright information

© The Chinese Meteorological Society and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tingting Ma
    • 1
    • 2
  • Guoxiong Wu
    • 2
    • 3
  • Yimin Liu
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Zhihong Jiang
    • 1
  • Jiahui Yu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster of Ministry of Education / Joint International Research Laboratory of Climate and Environmental ChangeNanjing University of Information Science & TechnologyNanjingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.College of Earth ScienceUniversity of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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