Moisture sources for East Asian precipitation: Mean seasonal cycle and interannual variability

Liang Guo, Ruud J. Van Der Ent, Nicholas P. Klingaman, Marie Estelle Demory, Pier Luigi Vidale, Andrew G. Turner, Claudia C. Stephan, Amulya Chevuturi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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This study investigates the moisture sources that supply East Asian (EA) precipitation and their interannual variability. Moisture sources are tracked using the Water Accounting Model-2layers (WAM- 2layers), based on the Eulerian framework.WAM-2layers is applied to five subregions over EA, driven by the ERA-Interim reanalysis from 1979 to 2015. Due to differences in regional atmospheric circulation and in hydrological and topographic features, the mean moisture sources vary among EA subregions. The tropical oceanic source dominates southeastern EA, while the extratropical continental source dominates other EA subregions. The moisture sources experience large seasonal variations, due to the seasonal cycle of the EA monsoon, the freeze-thaw cycle of the Eurasian continent, and local moisture recycling over the Tibetan Plateau. The interannual variability of moisture sources is linked to interannual modes of the coupled ocean- atmosphere system. The negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation increases moisture transport to northwestern EA in winter by driving a southward shift in the midlatitude westerly jet over the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, and the Caspian Sea. Atmospheric moisture lifetime is also reduced due to the enhanced westerlies. In summers following El Niños, an anticyclonic anomaly over the western North Pacific increases moisture supplied from the South China Sea to the southeastern EA and shortens the traveling distance. A stronger Somali Jet in summer increases moisture to the Tibetan Plateau and therefore increases precipitation over the eastern Tibetan Plateau. The methods and findings in this study can be used to evaluate hydrological features in climate simulations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-672
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Asia
  • Atmosphere
  • Hydrologic cycle
  • Moisture/moisture budget
  • Monsoons
  • Precipitation

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