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Difficulties in Correctly Modelling the East Asian Summer Monsoon
Song, F. and Zhou, T. 2014. Interannual variability of East Asian Summer Monsoon simulated by CMIP3 and CMIP5 AGCMs: Skill dependence on Indian Ocean-Western Pacific anticyclone teleconnection. Journal of Climate 27: 1679-1697.

The authors write that the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) "is an important climate system and plays a crucial role in the livelihood of more than one billion people" - citing Tao and Chen (1987), Webster et al. (1998) and Zhou et al. (2009) - while noting that it exhibits "large inter-annual variability" and that the droughts and floods that sometimes accompany it "can cause great economic loss and casualty, such as drought in 1994 and flooding in 1998," as described by Park and Schubert (1997) and Zong and Chen (2000).

What was done
As described by Song and Zhou, the climatology and inter-annual variability of the EASM were investigated "by using 13 atmospheric general circulation models (AGCMs) from phase 3 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3) and 19 AGCMs from CMIP5."

What was learned
The two researchers report that (1) "a northward shift of the western Pacific subtropical high" was "not reasonably reproduced," that (2) "the monsoon rainband known as mei-u/baiu/changma (28°-38°N, 105°-150°E) is poorly simulated," that (3) the observed dipole rainfall pattern is only "partly reproduced in CMIP3 and CMIP5," that (4,5) the pattern had "two deficiencies: a weaker magnitude and a southward shift of the dipole rainfall pattern," which were closely related to a (6) "weaker" and (7) "southward shift of the western Pacific anticyclone (WPAC)."

What it means
Once again, it seems that whatever advancements are achieved as climate models continue to be "perfected," there are always a handful of stubborn problems that either remain, or crop up, to continue to plague them.

Park, C.-K. and Schubert, S.D. 1997. On the nature of the 1994 East Asian summer drought. Journal of Climate 10: 1056-1070.

Tao, S. and Chen, L. 1987. A review of recent research on the East Asian summer monsoon in China. In: Chang, C.P. and Krishnamurti, T.N. (Eds.). Monsoon Meteorology. Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom, pp. 60-92.

Webster, P.J., Magana, V.O., Palmer, T.N., Shukla, J., Tomas, R.A., Yanai, M. and Yasunari, T. 1998. Monsoons: Processes, predictability, and the prospects for prediction. Journal of Geophysical Research 103: 14,451-14,510.

Zhou, T, Gong, D., Li, J. and Li, B. 2009. Detecting and understanding the multi-decadal variability of the East Asian summer monsoon: Recent progress and state of affairs. Meteorologische Zeitschrift 18: 455-467.

Zong, Y. and Chen, X. 2000. The 1998 flood on Yangtze, China. Natural Hazards 22: 165-184.

Reviewed 7 May 2014