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Importance of orographic gravity waves over the Tibetan plateau on the spring rainfall in East Asia

Li, R., Xu, X., Xu, X., Shepherd, T. G. and Wang, Y. (2023) Importance of orographic gravity waves over the Tibetan plateau on the spring rainfall in East Asia. Science China Earth Sciences, 66 (11). pp. 2594-2602. ISSN 1869-1897

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s11430-023-1204-6


The springtime persistent rainfall (SPR) is the major rainy period before the onset of summer monsoon in East Asia, which profoundly affects the regional and even global hydrological cycle. Despite the great importance of the mechanical and thermal effects of the Tibetan Plateau (TP) large-scale orography on the formation of SPR, the impact of small-scale orography over the TP remains poorly understood. Here we show that upward propagating orographic gravity waves (OGWs), which occur as the subtropical westerlies interact with the TP’s small-scale orography, contribute importantly to the SPR. The breaking of OGWs induces a large zonal wave drag in the middle troposphere, which drives a meridional circulation across the TP. The rising branch of the meridional circulation acts to lower the pressure and increase the meridional pressure gradient to the south of the TP by dynamically pumping the lower-tropospheric air upwards. The southwesterly monsoonal flow on the southeastern flank of the TP thus intensifies and transports more water vapor to East Asia, resulting in an enhancement of the SPR. This finding helps more completely understand the impacts of TP’s multiscale orography on the SPR and provides a new perspective on the westerly-monsoon synergy in East Asia.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:113629
Publisher:Science China

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