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The East Asian Winter Monsoon as Portrayed by CMIP5 Models

Paper Reviewed
Wei, K., Xu, T., Du, Z., Gong, H. and Xie, B. 2014. How well do the current state-of-the-art CMIP5 models characterize the climatology of the East Asian winter monsoon? Climate Dynamics 43: 1241-1255.

Setting the stage for their study, Wei et al. note that the East Asian Winter Monsoon (EAWM) influences not only East Asia but also convection and sea surface temperatures near the maritime continent (Chang et al., 1979; Bueh and Ji, 1999), the Australian summer monsoon (Zhang and Zhang, 2010), the climate of North America (Yang et al., 2002) the evolution, intensity and periodicity of ENSO (Lau and Peng, 1987; Huang et al., 2004; Li et al., 2007) and the Asian Summer Monsoon (Sun and Sun, 1994; Chen et al., 2000; Yan et al., 2011), which facts point to the importance of climate models being able to adequately represent the EAWM, which much-needed skill is the reason why Wei et al. conducted their evaluation of the ability of the most up-to-date CMIP5 models - plus some earlier CMIP3 models - to accomplish this important task.

This significant endeavor revealed that (1) "both the CMIP3 and CMIP5 models overestimate the precipitation over the East Asia oceanic region, that (2) "the overestimation of precipitation by the CMIP3 and CMIP5 models is most likely due to the overestimation of convective clouds in East Asia," that in the case of the CMIP5 models (3) "the near surface northerlies are weaker than suggested by observations and the CMIP3 models," that (4) "the zonal sea level pressure difference between the Siberian high and Aleutian low is weaker than in observations and the CMIP3 models," that (5) the 500-hPa major trough strength is too strong in East Asia," and that (6) "the cold bias still exists in the current CMIP5 models."

In light of these several demonstrable shortcomings - and actual regressions, as in the cases of points 3 and 4 above - the five Chinese scientists conclude that "additional model improvements are still required to better simulate the EAWM."

Bueh, C. and Ji, L. 1999. Anomalous activity of East Asian winter monsoon and the tropical Pacific SSTA. Chinese Science Bulletin 44: 890-898.

Chang, C.P., Erickson, J.E. and Lau, K.M. 1979. Northeasterly cold surges and near-equatorial disturbances over the winter MONEX area during December 1974. Part I: Synoptic aspects. Monthly Weather Review 107: 812-829.

Chen, W., Graf, H.F. and Huang, R. 2000. The interannual variability of the East Asian winter monsoon and its relation to the summer monsoon. Advances in Atmospheric Sciences 17: 46-60.

Huang, R., Chen, W., Yan, B. and Zhang, R. 2004. Recent advances in studies of the interaction between the East Asian winter and summer monsoons and ENSO cycle. Advances in Atmospheric Sciences 21: 407-424.

Lau, K.M. and Peng, L. 1987. Origin of low-frequency (intraseasonal) oscillations in the tropical atmosphere. Part I: basic theory. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 44: 950-972.

Li, Y., Lu, R. and Dong, B. 2007. The ENSO-Asian monsoon interaction in a coupled ocean-atmosphere GCM. Journal of Climate 20: 5164-5177.

Sun, B. and Sun, S. 1994. The analysis on the features of the atmospheric circulation in preceding winters for the summer drought and flooding in the Yangtze and Huaihe River Valley. Advances in Atmospheric Sciences 11: 79-90.

Yan, H.M., Yang, H., Yuan, Y. and Li, C.Y. 2011. Relationship between East Asian winter monsoon and summer monsoon. Advances in Atmospheric Science 28: 1345-1356.

Yang, S., Lau, K.M. and Kim, K.M. 2002. Variations of the East Asian jet stream and Asian-Pacific-American winter climate anomalies. Journal of Climate 15: 306-325.

Zhang, C.J. and Zhang, H.Q. 2010. Potential impacts of East Asian winter monsoon on climate variability and predictability in the Australian summer monsoon region. Theoretical and Applied Climatology 101: 161-177.

Posted 2 January 2015