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The effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gases and aerosols on the inter-decadal change of the South China Sea summer monsoon in the late twentieth century

Lin, Zhongxi, Dong, Buwen, Wen, Zhiping
Climate dynamics 2020 v.54 no.7-8 pp. 3339-3354
El Nino, aerosols, anthropogenic activities, atmospheric circulation, climate, climate models, convection, emissions, greenhouse gases, monsoon season, summer, surface water temperature, Asia, Indian Ocean, South China Sea
Analysis of observational precipitation indicates that in last few decades, the precipitation in boreal summer (June–August) over the South China Sea (SCS) exhibited an interdecadal variation, characterized by a decrease of 0.59 mm/day from the period 1964–1981 to the period 1994–2011. Accompanied this decrease in precipitation is weakened monsoon circulation featured by an anti-cyclonic circulation anomaly over the SCS in the later period relative to the early period. This work investigates impacts of anthropogenic forcing changes on this interdecadal change in observations, quantify the relative roles of greenhouse gases (GHG) forcing and anthropogenic aerosol (AA) forcing. A set of experiments is designed using the atmospheric component of a state-of-the-art climate model coupled to a multi-level mixed-layer ocean model forced with GHG concentrations and AA emissions in two periods. Modeling results indicate a dominant role of anthropogenic forcing on the observed interdecadal precipitation decrease and weakened monsoon circulation over the SCS in the late twentieth century in which AA forcing plays a more important role compared with GHG forcing. The mechanisms of GHG influences and AA induced changes are revealed by individual forcing experiments. Increasing GHG concentrations can suppress convection over the SCS summer monsoon region by warming the tropical Pacific with an El-Niño like sea surface temperature (SST) pattern, which is associated with a weakened Walker circulation. The changes in AA emissions, mainly through increases in emissions over Asia, lead to cool SST in the north Indian Ocean and the western North Pacific (WNP), and result in changes in meridional SST gradient over the tropical Indian Ocean and the WNP in pre-monsoon seasons. This anomalous meridional SST gradient leads to anomalous local Hadley circulation, characterized by anomalous ascents around the equator and descents over monsoon region, which suppresses convection over the SCS and reduces local precipitation.