Competing influences of greenhouse warming and aerosols on Asian Summer Monsoon circulation and rainfall.

Research paper by William K M WKM Lau, Kyu-Myong KM Kim

Indexed on: 09 Jun '21Published on: 30 May '17Published in: Asia-Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences


In this paper, we have compared and contrasted competing and amplifying influences on the global and regional drivers, circulation and rainfall responses of the Asian monsoon under global greenhouse warming (GHG) and aerosol forcing, based on CMIP5 historical simulations. Under GHG-only forcing, the land warms much faster than the ocean, magnifying the pre-industrial climatological land-ocean thermal contrast and hemispheric asymmetry, warmer northern than southern hemisphere. A steady increasing warm-ocean-warmer-land (WOWL) trend has been in effect since the 1950's substantially increasing moisture transport from adjacent oceans, and enhancing rainfall over the Asian monsoon regions. However, under GHG warming, increased atmospheric stability due to strong reduction in mid-tropospheric and near surface relative humidity coupled to an expanding subsidence areas, associated with the Deep Tropical Squeeze (DTS, Lau and Kim, 2015b) strongly suppress monsoon convection and rainfall over subtropical and extratropical land, leading to a weakening of the Asian monsoon meridional circulation. The inclusion of aerosol emissions strongly masks WOWL, by over 60% over the northern hemisphere, negating to a large extent the rainfall increase due to GHG warming, and leading to a further weakening of the monsoon circulation, through increasing atmospheric stability, most likely associated with aerosol solar dimming and semi-direct effects. Overall, we find that GHG exerts stronger positive rainfall sensitivity, but less negative circulation sensitivity in SASM compared to EASM. In contrast, aerosols exert stronger negative impacts on rainfall, but less negative impacts on circulation in EASM compared to SASM.