Climate Dynamics

, Volume 53, Issue 3–4, pp 2133–2146 | Cite as

A synoptic assessment of the summer extreme rainfall over the middle reaches of Yangtze River in CMIP5 models

  • Yang HuEmail author
  • Yi DengEmail author
  • Zhimin Zhou
  • Hongli Li
  • Chunguang Cui
  • Xiquan Dong


The summer mean and extreme rainfall over the middle reaches of Yangtze River (MRYR) are underestimated in many models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Our earlier work has identified three synoptic-scale circulation patterns associated with extreme rainfall events over the MRYR during early summer. It is verified here that the presence of these patterns indeed increases the likelihood of the occurrence of extreme rainfall over the MRYR. This relationship between the synoptic-scale circulation pattern and extreme rainfall is reproduced by only a subset of CMIP5 models, where the underestimated frequency of the corresponding synoptic-scale circulation patterns partly explains the underestimated frequency of extreme rainfall thus the summer total over the MRYR. Our analysis also reveals that a few models could “accidentally” simulate a realistic rainfall total and probability distribution of daily rain rate over the MRYR region during summer by generating their own model-dependent synoptic-scale circulation patterns that are not typically seen in observations. These findings suggest that a projection of future changes in extreme rainfall over the MRYR will be better constrained dynamically if we use a subset of models that can reproduce the “rainfall-circulation” relationship, given the diverse response of different circulation patterns to radiative forcing changes in the atmosphere. The results presented here also demonstrate the importance of tracking biases of synoptic-scale circulations in understanding model deficiencies in precipitation simulation, in addition to investigating problems in model physics such as cumulus schemes and microphysics parameterization. Nevertheless, these results are based on the analyses of extreme rainfall in one region and one season, further research covering other regions/seasons is needed.


Extreme precipitation Yangtze River basin CMIP5 Synoptic-scale circulation 



The authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions. This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41620104009, 91637211 and 41775071), the Key Program for International S&T Cooperation Projects of China (Grant No. 2016YFE0109400) and the National Key R&D Program of China (2018YFC1507200). Yi Deng is in part supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation through Grants AGS-1354402 and AGS-1445956.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hubei Key Laboratory for Heavy Rain Monitoring and Warning Research, Institute of Heavy RainChina Meteorological AdministrationWuhanChina
  2. 2.School of Earth and Atmospheric SciencesGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric SciencesUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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