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Long-term trends in atmospheric rivers over East Asia

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Atmospheric rivers (ARs) play an important role in the climate of East Asia due to their close linkage to precipitation extremes. In this study, long-term trends in ARs over East Asia for the period 1951–2015 are investigated using long-term records of historical climate, including the ERA5 climate reanalysis and the APHRODITE precipitation dataset. These datasets are produced at a relatively high spatial resolution of 0.25° × 0.25°, which allows for evaluation of the long-term trends in the fine-scale characteristics of ARs. The results indicate a significant decreasing trend in ARs and the associated precipitation over the north of East Asia. These dynamical changes dominate the decreasing trend of total summer precipitation amounts in parts of northern China. The decreasing trend in ARs over the north is principally related to the intensification and southward displacement of the southwesterly monsoon flow in boreal summer. In contrast, increasing AR activity and the associated precipitation and heavy rain events over the south of East Asia are observed. These changes are associated with a warmer and more humid environment along AR axes, as well as the southward shift of ARs driven by the dynamical responses of the large-scale environments in the context of climate warming. These responses include the intensification of the upper-level westerly jet accompanied with the strengthening of the South Asian Anticyclone during summer season. Moreover, in contrast to the general decreasing trends in boreal summer, AR activity during boreal winter-spring exhibits significant increasing trends, implying a potential weakening of the seasonality of ARs. This study shows that ARs are important synoptic mechanisms within observed precipitation trends over East Asia, such that understanding their response to a warming climate is a prerequisite to characterizing the nature of future precipitation changes in this region.

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Data availability statement

The used ERA5 data is downloaded from the Copernicus Climate Data Store (!/dataset/reanalysis-era5-pressure-levels?tab=overview) and the APHRODITE data is downloaded from its official website managed by the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature ( The ERA5-based atmospheric river datasets generated by ARIA-Asia during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. The data of the ARTMIP Tier-1 experiments is downloaded from the Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory (CGD) of the National Center for Atmospheric Research | University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (


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YY was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of Guangxi Province (Grant Numbers: 2022GXNSFAA035441). MKH was funded by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), the Queensland Government through the Drought and Climate Adaptation Program, and University of Southern Queensland through the Northern Australian Climate Program (NACP). The NACP is coordinated by Roger Stone. The authors acknowledge the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, The Japan Meteorological Agency for providing the climate reanalysis and precipitation observation datasets used in the study.

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Correspondence to Yangyang Yong.

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Liang, J., Yong, Y. & Hawcroft, M.K. Long-term trends in atmospheric rivers over East Asia. Clim Dyn 60, 643–666 (2023).

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