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Orbital control of the western North Pacific summer monsoon


Orbital forcing exerts a strong influence on global monsoon systems, with higher summer insolation leading to stronger summer monsoons in the Northern Hemisphere. However, the associated regional and seasonal changes, particularly the interaction between regional monsoon systems, remain unclear. Simulations using the Community Earth System Model demonstrate that the western North Pacific (WNP) summer monsoon responds to orbital forcing opposite to that of other major Northern Hemisphere monsoon systems. Compared with its current climate state, the simulated WNP monsoon and associated lower-tropospheric trough is absent in the early Holocene when the precession-modulated Northern Hemisphere summer insolation is higher, whereas the summer monsoons in South and East Asia are stronger and shift farther northward. We attribute the weaker WNP monsoon to the stronger diabatic heating of the summer Asian monsoon—in particular over the southern Tibetan Plateau and Maritime Continent—that in turn strengthens the North Pacific subtropical high through atmospheric teleconnections. By contrast, the impact of the midlatitude circulation changes on the WNP monsoon is weaker when the solar insolation is higher. Prior to the present WNP monsoon onset, the upper-tropospheric East Asian jet stream weakens and shifts northward; the monsoon onset is highly affected by the jet-induced high potential vorticity intrusion. In the instance of the extreme perihelion-summer, the WNP monsoon is suppressed despite a stronger midlatitude precursor than present-day, and the midlatitude circulation response to the enhanced South Asian precipitation is considerable. These conditions indicate internal monsoon interactions of an orbital scale, implying a potential mechanistic control of the WNP monsoon.

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