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Warm-season mesoscale convective systems over eastern China: convection-permitting climate model simulation and observation


Mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) are important warm-season precipitation systems in eastern China. However, our knowledge of their climatology and capability in their simulation is still insufficient. This paper examines their characteristics over the 2008–2017 warm seasons using convection-permitting climate simulations (CPCSs) with a 3-km grid spacing that explicitly resolves MCSs, as well as a high-resolution gauge-satellite merged precipitation product. An object-based tracking algorithm is applied to identify MCSs. Results indicate that the MCS genesis and occurrence are closely related to the progression of the East Asian monsoon and are modulated by the underlying topography. On average, about 243 MCSs are observed each season and contribute 19% and 47% to total and extreme warm-season precipitation. The climatological attributes and variabilities are reasonably reproduced in the CPCS. The major model deficiencies are excessive small MCS occurrence and overmuch MCS rainfall, consequently overestimating the precipitation contributions, whereas observational uncertainties may play a role too. Both the observed and simulated MCS precipitation feature a nocturnal or morning maximum and an eastward delayed diurnal peak east of the Tibetan Plateau, in contrast to the dominant afternoon peak of non-MCS precipitation. The favorable comparison with observations demonstrates the capability of CPCSs in simulating MCSs in the Asian monsoon climate, and its usefulness in projecting the future changes of MCSs under global warming. The finding that non-MCS precipitation is responsible for the high biased afternoon precipitation provides helpful guidance for further model improvement.

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The authors are thankful to the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their time and effort that significantly improve the quality of this work. The helpful guidance for using the MTD provided by John Halley Gotway and Andreas F. Prein at NCAR is greatly appreciated. This work is jointly supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant No. 41805119, the National Key Basic Research and Development Program of China under Grant No. 2018YFC1507404, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant No. 41775131 and 41775002. MTD is part of the Model Evaluation Tools (MET) developed by the Developmental Testbed Centers (DTC), and is available at

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Correspondence to Yuxing Yun.

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Yun, Y., Liu, C., Luo, Y. et al. Warm-season mesoscale convective systems over eastern China: convection-permitting climate model simulation and observation. Clim Dyn 57, 3599–3617 (2021).

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  • Mesoscale convective systems
  • Convection-permitting climate simulation
  • Warm-season precipitation
  • Eastern China
  • Extreme precipitation
  • Diurnal cycle