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Large-scale circulation classification and its links to observed precipitation in the eastern and central Tibetan Plateau

Journal article
Authors W. Liu
L. Wang
Deliang Chen
K. Tu
C. Ruan
Z. Hu
Published in Climate Dynamics
Volume 46
Issue 11
Pages 3481–3497
ISSN 0930-7575
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 3481–3497
Language en
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


The relationship between the large-scale circulation dynamics and regional precipitation regime in the Tibetan Plateau (TP) has so far not been well understood. In this study, we classify the circulation types using the self-organizing maps based on the daily field of 500 hPa geopotential height and link them to the precipitation climatology in the eastern and central TP. By virtue of an objective determining method, 18 circulation types are quantified. The results show that the large amount of precipitation in summer is closely related to the circulation types in which the enhanced and northward shifted subtropical high (SH) over the northwest Pacific and the obvious cyclconic circulation anomaly over the Bay of Bengal are helpful for the Indian summer monsoon and East Asian summer monsoon to take abundant low-latitude moisture to the eastern and southern TP. On the contrary, the dry winter in the central and eastern Tibet corresponds to the circulation types with divergence over the central and eastern TP and the water vapor transportations of East Asian winter monsoon and mid-latitude westerly are very weak. Some circulation types are associated with some well-known circulation patterns/monsoons influencing the TP (e.g. East Atlantic Pattern, El Niño Southern Oscillation, Indian Summer Monsoon and the mid-latitude westerly), and exhibit an overall good potential for explaining the variability of regional seasonal precipitation. Moreover, the climate shift signals in the late 1970s over the eastern Pacific/North Pacific Oceans could also be reflected by both the variability of some circulation types and their correspondingly composite precipitations. This study extends our understandings for the large-scale atmospheric dynamics and their linkages with regional precipitation and is beneficial for the climate change projection and related adaptation activities in the highest and largest plateau in the world.

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