Climate Dynamics

, Volume 52, Issue 5–6, pp 2585–2596 | Cite as

Risk and dynamics of unprecedented hot months in South East China

  • Vikki Thompson
  • Nick J. DunstoneEmail author
  • Adam A. Scaife
  • Doug M. Smith
  • Steven C. Hardiman
  • Hong-Li Ren
  • Bo Lu
  • Stephen E. Belcher


The Yangtze region of South East China has experienced several extreme hot summer months in recent years. Such events can have devastating socio–economic impacts. We use a large ensemble of initialised climate simulations to assess the current chance of unprecedented hot summer months in the Yangtze River region. We find a 10% chance of an unprecedented hot summer month each year. Our simulations suggest that monthly mean temperatures up to 3 °C hotter than the current record are possible. The dynamics of these unprecedented extremes highlights the occurrence of a stationary atmospheric wave, the Silk Road Pattern, in a significant number of extreme hot events. We present evidence that this atmospheric wave is driven by variability in the Indian summer monsoon. Other extreme events are associated with a westward shift in the western North Pacific subtropical high. The most extreme simulated events exhibit combined characteristics of both the Silk Road Pattern and the shifted western North Pacific subtropical high.


Unprecedented extremes Climate risks Silk Road Pattern China Hot summers 



This work was supported by the UK-China Research and Innovation Partnership Fund through the Met Office Climate Science for Service Partnership (CSSP) China as part of the Newton Fund, and National Key Research Program and Development of China (2017YFC1502302).


  1. Ambrizzi T, Hoskins BJ, Hsu HH (1995) Rossby wave propagation and teleconnection patterns in the austral winter. J Atmos Sci 52(21):3661–3672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chen G, Huang R (2012) Excitation mechanisms of the teleconnection patterns affecting the July precipitation in Northwest China. J Clim 25(22):7834–7851CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chen X, Zhou T (2017) Relative contributions of external SST forcing and internal atmospheric variability to July–August heat waves over the Yangtze River valley. Clim Dyn. Google Scholar
  4. Dee DP et al (2011) The ERA-Interim reanalysis: configuration and performance of the data assimiliation system. QJR Meteorol Soc 137:553–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ding T, Ke Z (2015) Characteristics and changes of regional wet and dry heat wave events in China during 1960–2013. Theoret Appl Climatol 122(3–4):651–665CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ding Q, Wang B (2005) Circumglobal teleconnection in the Northern Hemisphere summer. J Clim 18(17):3483–3505CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dunstone N et al (2016) Skilful predictions of the winter North Atlantic Oscillation one year ahead. Nat GeoSci 9:809–814CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Easterling DR, Meehl GA, Parmesan C, Changnon SA, Karl TR, Mearns LO (2000) Climate extremes: observations, modelling, and impacts. Science 289(5487):2068–2074CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Enomoto T, Hoskins BJ, Matsuda Y (2003) The formation mechanism of the Bonin high in August. Quart J R Meteorol Soc 129(587):157–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Feng J, Chen W, Tam CY, Zhou W (2011) Different impacts of El Niño and El Niño Modoki on China rainfall in the decaying phases. Int J Climatol 31(14):2091–2101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Field CB, Barros VR (eds) (2014) Climate change 2014: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability, vol 1. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Gong DY, Pan YZ, Wang JA (2004) Changes in extreme daily mean temperatures in summer in eastern China during 1955–2000. Theoret Appl Climatol 77(1):25–37Google Scholar
  13. Guan Z, Yamagata T (2003) The unusual summer of 1994 in East Asia: IOD teleconnections. Geophys Res Lett 30:1544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Harris IP, Jones PD, Osborn TJ, Lister DH (2013) Updated high-resolution grids of monthly climatic observations—the CRU TS3.10 dataset. Int J Climatol 34:623–642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. He J, Bing Z, Min W, Feng L (2001) Vertical circulation structure, interannual variation features and variation mechanism of western Pacific subtropical high. Adv Atmos Sci 18(4):497–510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hoskins BJ, Karoly DJ (1981) The steady linear response of a spherical atmosphere to thermal and orographic forcing. J Atmos Sci 38(6):1179–1196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hu K et al (2012) The impact of Indian Ocean variability on high temperature extremes across the southern Yangtze River valley in late summer. Adv Atmos Sci 29:91–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. IPCC (2014) Climate change 2014: synthesis report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  19. Jin D, Guan Z (2017) Summer rainfall seesaw between Hetao and the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and its relationship with the North Atlantic Oscillation. J Clim 30(17):6629–6643CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Joseph PV, Srinivasan J (1999) Rossby waves in May and the Indian summer monsoon rainfall. Tellus A 51(5):854–864CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kent C, Pope E, Thompson V, Lewis K, Scaife AA, Dunstone N (2017) Using climate model simulations to assess the current climate risk to maize production. Environ Res Lett 12(5):054012CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kornhuber K, Petoukhov V, Karoly D, Petri S, Rahmstorf S, Coumou D (2017) Summertime planetary wave resonance in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. J Clim 30(16):6133–6150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kosaka Y, Nakamura H, Watanabe M, Kimoto M (2009) Analysis on the dynamics of a wave-like teleconnection pattern along the summertime Asian jet based on a reanalysis dataset and climate model simulations. J Meteorol Soc Jpn Ser II 87(3):561–580CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kosaka Y, Chowdary JS, Xie SP, Min YM, Lee JY (2012) Limitations of seasonal predictability for summer climate over East Asia and the Northwestern Pacific. J Clim 25(21):7574–7589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Li Y, Xu H, Liu D (2011) Features of the extremely severe drought in the east of Southwest China and anomalies of atmospheric circulation in summer 2006. Acta Meteorologica Sinica 25(2):176–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Li J, Ding T, Jia X, Zhao X (2015) Analysis on the extreme heat wave over China around Yangtze River Region in the summer of 2013 and its main contributing factors. Adv Meteorol. Google Scholar
  27. Lu R-Y, Chen R-D (2016) A review of recent studies on extreme heat in China. Atmos Ocean Sci Lett 9(2):114–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nitta T (1987) Convective activities in the tropical western Pacific and their impact on the Northern Hemisphere summer circulation. J Meteorol Soc Jpn 65:373–390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Parthasarathy B, Kumar KR, Munot AA (1991) Evidence of secular variations in Indian monsoon rainfall—circulation relationships. J Clim 4(9):927–938CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pearson KJ, Shaffrey LC, Methven J, Hodges KI (2015) Can a climate model reproduce extreme regional precipitation events over England and Wales? Quart J R Meteorol Soc 141(689):1466–1472CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Peng JB (2014) An investigation of the formation of the heat wave in southern China in summer 2013 and the relevant abnormal subtropical high activities. Atmos Ocean Sci Lett 7(4):286–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rodwell MJ, Hoskins BJ (1996) Monsoons and the dynamics of deserts. Quart J R Meteorol Soc 122(534):1385–1404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sardeshmukh PD, Hoskins BJ (1988) The generation of global rotational flow by steady idealized tropical divergence. J Atmos Sci 45(7):1228–1251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Scaife AA, Copsey D, Gordon C, Harris C, Hinton T, Keeley SJ, O’Neill A, Roberts M, Williams K (2011) Improved Atlantic blocking in a climate model. Geophys Res Lett 38:L23703. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Scaife AA et al (2017) Tropical rainfall, rossby waves and regional winter climate predictions. Quart J Roy Met Soc 143:1–11. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Song F, Zhou T, Wang L (2013) Two modes of the silk road pattern and their interannual variability simulated by LASG/IAP AGCM SAMIL2. 0. Adv Atmos Sci 30(3):908CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stott PA, Allen M, Christidis N, Dole RM, Hoerling M, Huntingford C, Pall P, Perlwitz J, Stone D (2013) Attribution of weather and climate-related events. In: Climate science for serving society. Springer, Netherlands, pp 307–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sun J, Wang H (2012) Changes of the connection between the summer North Atlantic Oscillation and the East Asian summer rainfall. J Geophys Res Atmos 117:D8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sun J, Wang H, Yuan W (2008) Decadal variations of the relationship between the summer North Atlantic Oscillation and middle East Asian air temperature. J Geophys Res Atmos 113:D15Google Scholar
  40. Sun Y et al (2014) Rapid increase in the risk of extreme summer heat in Eastern China. Nat Clim Change 4(12):1082–1085CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Tan J, Zheng Y, Song G, Kalkstein LS, Kalkstein AJ, Tang X (2007) Heat wave impacts on mortality in Shanghai, 1998 and 2003. Int J Biometeorol 51:193–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Thompson V, Dunstone NJ, Scaife AA, Smith DM, Slingo JM, Brown S, Belcher SE (2017) High risk of unprecedented UK rainfall in the current climate. Nat Commun 8:107. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. van den Brink HW, Konnen GP, Opsteegh JD, van Oldenborgh GJ, Burgers G (2004) Improving 104-year surge level estimates using data of the ECMWF seasonal prediction system. Geophys Res Lett 31:L17210Google Scholar
  44. Wang N, Zhang Y (2015) Evolution of Eurasian teleconnection pattern and its relationship to climate anomalies in China. Clim Dyn 44(3–4):1017–1028CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wang B, Wu RG, Fu XH (2000) Pacific-East Asian teleconnection: how does ENSO affect East Asian climate? J Climate 13:1517–1536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wang W, Zhou W, Li X, Wang X, Wang D (2016) Synoptic-scale characteristics and atmospheric controls of summer heat waves in China. Clim Dyn 46(9–10):2923–2941CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Watanabe M (2004) Asian jet waveguide and a downstream extension of the North Atlantic Oscillation. J Clim 17(24):4674–4691CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Weedon GP et al (2014) The WFDEI meteorological forcing data set: WATCH Forcing Data methodology applied to ERA-Interim reanalysis data. Water Resour Res 50(9):7505–7514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Williams KD, Harris CM, Bodas-Salcedo A, Camp J, Comer RE, Copsey D, Fereday D, Graham T, Hill R, Hinton T, Hyder P (2015) The met office global coupled model 2.0 (GC2) configuration. Geosci Model Devel 8(5):1509–1524CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. WMO (2013) The global climate 2001–2010: a decade of climate extremes. WMO-No. 1103. World Meteorological Organization, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  51. Xie SP, Hu K, Hafner J, Tokinaga H, Du Y, Huang G, Sampe T (2009) Indian Ocean capacitor effect on Indo-Western Pacific climate during the summer following El Nino. J Clim 22:730–747CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Yadav RK (2017) Midlatitude Rossby wave modulation of the Indian summer monsoon. Q J R Meteorol Soc 143:2260–2271CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Yasui S, Watanabe M (2010) Forcing processes of the summertime circumglobal teleconnection pattern in a dry AGCM. J Clim 23(8):2093–2114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zheng F, Li J, Li Y, Zhao S, Deng D (2016) Influence of the summer NAO on the spring-NAO-based predictability of the East Asian summer monsoon. J Appl Meteorol Climatol 55(7):1459–1476CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Zhou T, Ma S, Zou L (2014) Understanding a hot summer in central eastern China: summer 2013 in context of multimodel trend analysis. Bull Am Meteor Soc 95(2014):S54 9 )Google Scholar

Copyright information

© © Crown 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vikki Thompson
    • 1
  • Nick J. Dunstone
    • 1
    Email author
  • Adam A. Scaife
    • 1
    • 2
  • Doug M. Smith
    • 1
  • Steven C. Hardiman
    • 1
  • Hong-Li Ren
    • 3
    • 4
  • Bo Lu
    • 3
  • Stephen E. Belcher
    • 1
  1. 1.Met Office Hadley CentreExeterUK
  2. 2.University of ExeterExeterUK
  3. 3.Laboratory for Climate Studies & CMA-NJU Joint Laboratory for Climate Prediction Studies, National Climate CenterChina Meteorological AdministrationBeijingChina
  4. 4.Department of Atmospheric Science, School of Environmental studiesChina University of GeoscienceWuhanChina

Personalised recommendations