Impacts of recent decadal changes in Asian aerosols on the East Asian summer monsoon: roles of aerosol–radiation and aerosol–cloud interactions

Research paper by Buwen Dong, Laura J. Wilcox, Eleanor J. Highwood, Rowan T. Sutton

Indexed on: 22 Mar '19Published on: 09 Mar '19Published in: Climate Dynamics


Anthropogenic aerosols (AA) can affect cloud and precipitation through aerosol–radiation interaction (ARI) and aerosol–cloud interaction (ACI). Over the past few decades, anthropogenic aerosol emissions have exhibited remarkable changes in the magnitude and in spatial pattern. The most significant changes are the increased emissions over both South Asia and East Asia. In this study, the atmospheric component of a state-of-the-art climate model that includes eight species of tropospheric aerosols, coupled to a multi-level mixed-layer ocean model, has been used to investigate the impacts of Asian anthropogenic aerosol precursor emission changes from 1970s to 2000s on large scale circulation and precipitation in boreal summer over East Asia. Results reveal significant changes in circulation and clouds over East Asia and over the tropical and western North Pacific (WNP). Increased Asian AA emissions lead to anomalous cyclonic circulation over the Maritime continent (MC) and anomalous anticyclonic circulation over the WNP, resulting in anomalous moisture transport convergence over the MC and therefore increased precipitation. They also lead to anomalous moisture flux divergence over both the WNP and large land areas of East Asia, especially over northern China, and therefore decreased precipitation there. These large scale circulation anomalies over the adjacent oceans are related to aerosol change induced ocean feedbacks, predominantly through ACI. It is the slow responses over the adjacent oceans (e.g., SST changes) through coupled atmosphere–ocean interaction in pre-monsoon seasons and summer that shape the changes of the East Asian summer monsoon and local precipitation. The results in this study suggest that increased Asian AA emissions from 1970s to 2000s may have played an important role for the observed southward shift of the Pacific intertropical convergence zone and precipitation belt, weakening of East Asian summer monsoon and reduced precipitation over northern China in East Asia during the latter half of the twentieth century.