Climate Dynamics

, Volume 42, Issue 9–10, pp 2323–2337 | Cite as

Indo-Pacific remote forcing in summer rainfall variability over the South China Sea

  • Zhuoqi He
  • Renguang WuEmail author


This study investigates summer rainfall variability in the South China Sea (SCS) region and the roles of remote sea surface temperature (SST) forcing in the tropical Indian and Pacific Ocean regions. The SCS summer rainfall displays a positive and negative relationship with simultaneous SST in the equatorial central Pacific (ECP) and the North Indian Ocean (NIO), respectively. Positive ECP SST anomalies induce an anomalous low-level cyclone over the SCS-western North Pacific as a Rossby-wave type response, leading to above-normal precipitation over northern SCS. Negative NIO SST anomalies contribute to anomalous cyclonic winds over the western North Pacific by an anomalous east–west vertical circulation north of the equator, favoring more rainfall over northern SCS. These NIO SST anomalies are closely related to preceding La Niña and El Niño events through the “atmospheric bridge”. Thus, the NIO SST anomalies serve as a medium for an indirect impact of preceding ECP SST anomalies on the SCS summer rainfall variability. The ECP SST influence is identified to be dominant after 1990 and the NIO SST impact is relatively more important during 1980s. These Indo-Pacific SST effects are further investigated by conducting numerical experiments with an atmospheric general circulation model. The consistency between the numerical experiments and the observations enhances the credibility of the Indo-Pacific SST influence on the SCS summer rainfall variability.


South China Sea summer rainfall North Indian Ocean SST Equatorial central Pacific SST Indirect influence of Pacific SST Numerical experiments 



This study is supported by the National Basis Research Program of China grant (2014CB953902), the Hong Kong Research Grant Council Grant (CUHK403612), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China Grant (41275081).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Space and Earth Information ScienceThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong SAR, China
  2. 2.Shenzhen Research InstituteThe Chinese University of Hong KongShenzhenChina

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