Journal of Climate: Vol. 15, No. 4, pp. 386-398.
Department of Meteorology and IPRC, University of Hawaii at Manoa,
Department of Atmospheric Sciences, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
(Manuscript received 19 December 2000, accepted 13 July 2001)
To date, the monsoon-research community has not yet reached a consensus on a unified definition of monsoon rainy season or on the linkage between the onsets over the Asian continent and the adjacent oceans. A single rainfall parameter is proposed, and a suite of universal criteria for defining the domain, onset, peak, and withdrawal of the rainy season are developed. These results reveal a cohesive spatial-temporal structure of the Asian-Pacific monsoon rainy season characteristics, which will facilitate validation of monsoon hydrological cycles simulated by climate system models and improve our understanding of monsoon dynamics.
The large-scale onset of the Asian monsoon rainy season consists of two phases. The first phase begins with the rainfall surges over the South China Sea (SCS) in mid-May, which establishes a planetary-scale monsoon rainband extending from the south Asian marginal seas (the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the SCS) to the subtropical western North Pacific (WNP). The rainband then advances northwestward, initiating the continental Indian rainy season, the Chinese mei-yu, and the Japanese baiu in early to mid-June (the second phase). The heights of the rainy seasons occur primarily in three stepwise phases: in late June over the mei-yu/baiu regions, the northern Bay of Bengal, and the vicinity of the Philippines, in late July over India and northern China; and in mid-August over the tropical WNP. The rainy season retreats northward over east Asia, yet it moves southward over India and the WNP.
Clear distinctions in the characteristics of the rainy season exist among the Indian, east Asian, and WNP summer monsoon regions. Nevertheless, the rainy seasons of the three subsystems also show close linkage. The causes of the regional distinctions and linkages are discussed. Also discussed are the atypical monsoon rainy seasons, such as the skewed and bimodal seasonal distributions found in various places of Asian monsoon domain.