Analysis of observations from 1979 to 2002 shows that the seasonal transition from winter to spring in East Asia is marked with a distinctive event - the onset of the south China spring rain (SCSR). In late February, the reduced thermal contrast between ocean and land leads to weakening of the Asian winter monsoon as well as the Siberian high and the Aleutian low. Meanwhile, convection over Australia and the western Pacific Maritime Continent is suppressed on the passage of the dry phase of a Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO). In conjunction with the seasonal march of monsoon circulation in the Indonesian-Australian sector, this MJO passage weakens the local thermally direct cell in the East Asia-Australia sector. This development is further accompanied by a series of adjustments in both the tropics and midlatitudes. These changes include attenuation of the planetary stationary wave, considerable weakening of the westerly jet stream over much of the central Pacific adjacent to Japan, and reduction of baroclinicity near the East Asian trough. The influence of concurrent local processes in midlatitudes on the SCSR onset is also important. The weakened jet stream is associated with confinement of frontal activities to the coastal regions of East Asia as well as with rapid expansion of the subtropical Pacific high from the eastern Pacific to the western Pacific. A parallel analysis using output from an experiment with a GFDL-coupled GCM shows that the above sequence of circulation changes is well simulated in that model.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atmospheric Science