Climate Dynamics

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 601–618 | Cite as

Diagnosing Australia-Asian monsoon onset/retreat using large-scale wind and moisture indices

  • Huqiang ZhangEmail author


Using large-scale variables, in this study we have developed a method for defining monsoon onset/retreat in the Australia-Asian region and used this method to study monsoon activities simulated by global climate models. For this purpose, the method needs to capture fundamental characteristics of monsoon rainfall and circulation seasonal variations and at the same time it can be reasonably simulated by current climate models. We develop the method by using both atmospheric precipitable water and wind conditions in our definition and compared our results using 44-year ERA-40 reanalysis data with some published results in the region. Our results offer similar features to several observational studies, including features in Australia-Asian summer monsoon temporal and spatial evolutions and their interannual variations. Results further show that the observed significant increase in summer rainfall in northwest Australia corresponds to earlier onset and much longer duration of its summer monsoon, with its duration significantly increased. Prolonged summer monsoon duration is also seen in central-east China where upward rainfall trend is observed. Furthermore, the Australian summer monsoon appears to be more affected by ENSO than the Asian monsoon, with delayed onsets and shortened durations during El Nino years. Finally, by analyzing results from an IPCC AR4 model, we have shown that using the two large-scale variables simulated by climate models, it is possible to conduct some detailed studies on monsoon activities in current and future climate. Results from this particular model suggest that global warming could potentially modify some of the monsoon characteristics, including earlier onset in most of the region but different features for changes in duration. In the Australian region, it also displays further southward penetration of its summer monsoon.


Monsoon onset/retreat Wind and moisture conditions Variaiblity Climate change 



This study was part of the activities under an Australia-China Climate Change Bilateral Project between BMRC/CAWCR and China Meteorological Administration (CMA) led by the author. The author appreciates discussions with Prof. Guowu Sun and Dr. Xu Tang of CMA when he visited Shanghai Regional Climate Center in 2007. His further collaboration on this study was partially supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant No. 40875056. He appreciates the discussions with Dr. C. Frederiksen and A. Moise of BMRC/CAWCR during the study. The great efforts from Dr. L. Hanson and A. Moise in acquiring and assistance in processing some of the IPCC AR4 data are appreciated. The funding supporting from Australian Greenhouse Office to this bilateral project is acknowledged. Comments from Dr. Lixin Qi of Australian National Climate Centre and Dr. W. Drosdowsky of Australian Bureau of Meteorology during its internal review process are acknowledged. The author sincerely appreciates very detailed and constructive comments and suggestions from two anonymous reviewers during its review process. Dr. S. Grainger and L. Hanson are thanked for helping in improving the English presentation of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, A partnership between Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIROMelbourneAustralia

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