A Caltech Library Service

Dynamics of the East Asian Summer Monsoon in Present and Future Climates


Chen, Jinqiang (2016) Dynamics of the East Asian Summer Monsoon in Present and Future Climates. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9G44N60.


This thesis aims at enhancing our fundamental understanding of the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM), and mechanisms implicated in its climatology in present-day and warmer climates. We focus on the most prominent feature of the EASM, i.e., the so-called Meiyu-Baiu (MB), which is characterized by a well-defined, southwest to northeast elongated quasi-stationary rainfall band, spanning from eastern China to Japan and into the northwestern Pacific Ocean in June and July.

We begin with an observational study of the energetics of the MB front in present-day climate. Analyses of the moist static energy (MSE) budget of the MB front indicate that horizontal advection of moist enthalpy, primarily of dry enthalpy, sustains the front in a region of otherwise negative net energy input into the atmospheric column. A decomposition of the horizontal dry enthalpy advection into mean, transient, and stationary eddy fluxes identifies the longitudinal thermal gradient due to zonal asymmetries and the meridional stationary eddy velocity as the most influential factors determining the pattern of horizontal moist enthalpy advection. Numerical simulations in which the Tibetan Plateau (TP) is either retained or removed show that the TP influences the stationary enthalpy flux, and hence the MB front, primarily by changing the meridional stationary eddy velocity, with reinforced southerly wind on the northwestern flank of the north Pacific subtropical high (NPSH) over the MB region and northerly wind to its north. Changes in the longitudinal thermal gradient are mainly confined to the near downstream of the TP, with the resulting changes in zonal warm air advection having a lesser impact on the rainfall in the extended MB region.

Similar mechanisms are shown to be implicated in present climate simulations in the Couple Model Intercomparison Project - Phase 5 (CMIP5) models. We find that the spatial distribution of the EASM precipitation simulated by different models is highly correlated with the meridional stationary eddy velocity. The correlation becomes more robust when energy fluxes into the atmospheric column are considered, consistent with the observational analyses. The spread in the area-averaged rainfall amount can be partially explained by the spread in the simulated globally-averaged precipitation, with the rest primarily due to the lower-level meridional wind convergence. Clear relationships between precipitation and zonal and meridional eddy velocities are observed.

Finally, the response of the EASM to greenhouse gas forcing is investigated at different time scales in CMIP5 model simulations. The reduction of radiative cooling and the increase in continental surface temperature occur much more rapidly than changes in sea surface temperatures (SSTs). Without changes in SSTs, the rainfall in the monsoon region decreases (increases) over ocean (land) in most models. On longer time scales, as SSTs increase, rainfall changes are opposite. The total response to atmospheric CO^2 forcing and subsequent SST warming is a large (modest) increase in rainfall over ocean (land) in the EASM region. Dynamic changes, in spite of significant contributions from the thermodynamic component, play an important role in setting up the spatial pattern of precipitation changes. Rainfall anomalies over East China are a direct consequence of local land-sea contrast, while changes in the larger-scale oceanic rainfall band are closely associated with the displacement of the larger-scale NPSH. Numerical simulations show that topography and SST patterns play an important role in rainfall changes in the EASM region.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:East Asian Summer Monsoon, Moist static energy budget, Moisture budget, Stationary eddies, CMIP5, Future projections
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Major Option:Environmental Science and Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Bordoni, Simona
Thesis Committee:
  • Wennberg, Paul O. (chair)
  • Bordoni, Simona
  • Thompson, Andrew F.
  • Ingersoll, Andrew P.
Defense Date:25 August 2015
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:09022015-090357274
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription 3. Orographic effects of the Tibetan Plateau on the East Asian Summer monsoon: An energetic perspective. 4. Inter-model spread of East Asian Summer monsoon simulations in CMIP5.
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9134
Deposited By: Jinqiang Chen
Deposited On:17 Sep 2015 21:38
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:09

Thesis Files

PDF - Final Version
See Usage Policy.


Repository Staff Only: item control page