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Journal of Climate: Vol. 14, No. 20, pp. 4073-4090.

Interannual Variability of the Asian Summer Monsoon: Contrasts between the Indian and the Western North Pacific-East Asian Monsoons*

Bin Wang

Department of Meteorology and International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii
Renguang Wu

International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii
K.-M. Lau

Climate and Radiation Branch, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

(Manuscript received 28 July 2000, accepted 10 April 2001)


    Analyses of 50-yr NCEP-NCAR reanalysis data reveal remarkably different interannual variability between the Indian summer monsoon (ISM) and western North Pacific summer monsoon (WNPSM) in their temporal-spatial structures, relationships to El Niño, and teleconnections with midlatitude circulations. Thus, two circulation indices are necessary, which measure the variability of the ISM and WNPSM, respectively. A weak WNPSM features suppressed convection along 10°-20°N and enhanced rainfall along the mei-yu/baiu front. So the WNPSM index also provides a measure for the east Asian summer monsoon. An anomalous WNPSM exhibits a prominent meridional coupling among the Australian high, cross-equatorial flows, WNP monsoon trough, WNP subtropical high, east Asian subtropical front, and Okhotsk high. The WNP monsoon has leading spectral peaks at 50 and 16 months, whereas the Indian monsoon displays a primary peak around 30 months. The WNPSM is weak during the decay of an El Niño, whereas the ISM tends to abate when an El Niño develops. Since the late 1970s, the WNPSM has become more variable, but its relationship with El Niño remained steady; in contrast, the ISM has become less variable and its linkage with El Niño has dramatically declined. These contrasting features are in part attributed to the differing processes of monsoon-ocean interaction.

    Also found is a teleconnection between a suppressed WNPSM and deficient summer rainfall over the Great Plains of the United States. This boreal summer teleconnection is forced by the heat source fluctuation associated with the WNPSM and appears to be established through excitation of Rossby wave trains and perturbation of the jet stream that further excites downstream optimum unstable modes.