Why the western Pacific subtropical high has extended westward since the late 1970s
Zhou, T., Yu, R., Zhang, J., Grange, H., Cassou, C., Deser, C., Hodson, D. L. R., Sanchez-Gomez, E., Keenlyside, N., Xin, X. and Okumura, Y. (2009) Why the western Pacific subtropical high has extended westward since the late 1970s. Journal of Climate, 22 (8). pp. 2199-2215. ISSN 1520-0442
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1175/2008JCLI2527.1
The western Pacific subtropical high (WPSH) is closely related to Asian climate. Previous examination of changes in the WPSH found a westward extension since the late 1970s, which has contributed to the inter-decadal transition of East Asian climate. The reason for the westward extension is unknown, however. The present study suggests that this significant change of WPSH is partly due to the atmosphere's response to the observed Indian Ocean-western Pacific (IWP) warming. Coordinated by a European Union's Sixth Framework Programme, Understanding the Dynamics of the Coupled Climate System (DYNAMITE), five AGCMs were forced by identical idealized sea surface temperature patterns representative of the IWP warming and cooling. The results of these numerical experiments suggest that the negative heating in the central and eastern tropical Pacific and increased convective heating in the equatorial Indian Ocean/ Maritime Continent associated with IWP warming are in favor of the westward extension of WPSH. The SST changes in IWP influences the Walker circulation, with a subsequent reduction of convections in the tropical central and eastern Pacific, which then forces an ENSO/Gill-type response that modulates the WPSH. The monsoon diabatic heating mechanism proposed by Rodwell and Hoskins plays a secondary reinforcing role in the westward extension of WPSH. The low-level equatorial flank of WPSH is interpreted as a Kelvin response to monsoon condensational heating, while the intensified poleward flow along the western flank of WPSH is in accord with Sverdrup vorticity balance. The IWP warming has led to an expansion of the South Asian high in the upper troposphere, as seen in the reanalysis.