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Changing character of rainfall in eastern China, 1951–2007

  • Author(s): Day, JA
  • Fung, I
  • Liu, W
  • et al.
Abstract

© 2018 National Academy of Sciences. All Rights Reserved. The topography and continental configuration of East Asia favor the year-round existence of storm tracks that extend thousands of kilometers from China into the Northwestern Pacific Ocean, producing zonally elongated patterns of rainfall that we call “frontal rain events.” In spring and early summer (known as “Meiyu Season”), frontal rainfall intensifies and shifts Northward during a series of stages collectively known as the East Asian summer monsoon. Using a technique called the Frontal Rain Event Detection Algorithm, we create a daily catalog of all frontal rain events in east China during 1951–2007, quantify their attributes, and classify all rainfall on each day as either frontal, resulting from large-scale convergence, or nonfrontal, produced by local buoyancy, topography, or typhoons. Our climatology shows that the East Asian summer monsoon consists of a series of coupled changes in frontal rain event frequency, latitude, and daily accumulation. Furthermore, decadal changes in the amount and distribution of rainfall in east China are overwhelmingly due to changes in frontal rainfall. We attribute the “South Flood–North Drought” pattern observed beginning in the 1980s to changes in the frequency of frontal rain events, while the years 1994–2007 witnessed an uptick in event daily accumulation relative to the rest of the study years. This particular signature May reflect the relative impacts of global warming, aerosol loading, and natural variability on regional rainfall, potentially via shifting the East Asian jet stream.

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