Diurnal variations of warm-season precipitation east of the Tibetan Plateau over China

Xinghua Bao, Fuqing Zhang, Jianhua Sun

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This study explores the diurnal variations of the warm-season precipitation to the east of the Tibetan Plateau over China using the high-resolution NOAA/Climate Prediction Center morphing technique (CMORPH) precipitation data and the Global Forecast System (GFS) gridded analyses during mid-May to mid-August of 2003-09. Complementary to the past studies using satellite or surface observations, it is found that there are strong diurnal variations in the summertime precipitation over the focus domain to the east of the Tibetan Plateau. These diurnal precipitation cycles are strongly associated with several thermally driven regional mountain-plains solenoids due to the differential heating between the Tibetan Plateau, the highlands, the plains, and the ocean. The diurnal cycles differ substantially from region to region and during the three different month-long periods: the pre-mei-yu period (15 May-15 June), the mei-yu period (15 June-15 July), and the post-mei-yu period (15 July-15 August). In particular, there is a substantial difference in the propagation speed and eastward extent of the peak phase of the dominant diurnal precipitation cycle that is originated from the Tibetan Plateau. This diurnal peak has a faster (slower) eastward propagation speed, themore (less) coherent propagation duration, and thus covers the longest (shortest) distance to the east during the pre-mei-yu (post-mei-yu) period than that during themei-yu period. The differences in themeanmidlatitude westerly flow and in the positioning and strength of the western Pacific subtropical high during different periods are the key factors in explaining the difference in the propagation speed and the eastward extent of this dominant diurnal precipitation cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2790-2810
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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