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GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 35, L20702, doi:10.1029/2008GL035287, 2008

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Interdecadal modulation of PDO on the impact of ENSO on the east Asian winter monsoon
Lin Wang,1 Wen Chen,1 and Ronghui Huang1
Received 9 July 2008; revised 20 September 2008; accepted 23 September 2008; published 21 October 2008.

[1] The interdecadal modulation of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) upon the impact of the El Nin o-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on the east Asian winter monsoon (EAWM) is investigated. When the PDO is in its high phase, there is no robust relationship between ENSO and EAWM on the interannual timescale. When the PDO is in its low phase, ENSO exerts strong impact on the EAWM, with robust and significant low-level temperature changes occurring over east Asia. The contrast in ENSOs influence between the two phases of the PDO is quite remarkable, which urges that the phase of the PDO should be taken into account in the ENSObased prediction of wintertime climate over east Asia. This modulation may be accounted for by the change in the lowlatitude Pacific-east Asian teleconnection and in the response of midlatitude geopotential height to ENSO over Northwest Pacific. Citation: Wang, L., W. Chen, and R. Huang (2008),
Interdecadal modulation of PDO on the impact of ENSO on the east Asian winter monsoon, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L20702, doi:10.1029/2008GL035287.

area, the east Asian summer monsoon (EASM) and EAWM are the most dominating climate phenomena. The ENSO-EASM relationship during 1978 93 was found to be significantly different from that during 1962 77 [Wu and Wang, 2002], which actually corresponds to a phase change of the PDO. One question is whether the ENSOEAWM relationship also varies with the phase of the PDO. This issue will be investigated in this paper.

2. Data and Methods


[4] The monthly mean datasets used in this study are listed in Table 1. We focus on the winter means that are constructed by averaging the monthly means of December, January and February (DJF). A 9-year running average is used to obtain the interdecadal variability of the PDO. This yields four periods with high PDO values: 1900 1911, 1921 1943, 1978 1990, 1993 2005, and three periods with low PDO values: 1912 1920, 1944 1977, 1991 1992. Here the 1900 refers to the 1900/01 winter. The Nin o3.4 index calculated from the HadISST1 dataset is used to represent the variability of ENSO. ENSO extreme winters are defined when detrended DJF Nin o3.4 index is more than 0.8 standard deviations away from the long-term mean [Gershunov and Barnett, 1998]. The detrended Nin o3.4 index is employed to avoid the possible influence of the PDOs phase shift [Gershunov and Barnett, 1998]. Following this definition, 8 El Nin o winters and 7 La Nin a winters are selected for the period 1957 2001. Further, these winters are sorted according to the phase of the PDO (Table 2). Since the influence of El Nin o on the EAWM is generally opposite to that of La Nin a [Wang et al., 2000], this study mainly discusses the composite difference between El Nin o and La Nin a winters.

1. Introduction
[2] It is well-known that the El Nin o-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon exhibits the greatest influence on the interannual variability of the global climate, and it can be used as a potential predictor in practical operation [Webster et al., 1998]. The mature phase of El Nin o events often occurs in boreal winter and is usually accompanied by a weaker than normal east Asian winter monsoon (EAWM) [Zhang et al., 1996; Wang et al., 2000]. Consequently, the climate over east Asia is warmer and wetter during El Nin o winters [Li, 1990; Chen et al., 2000]. In addition, the influence of ENSO on the east Asian climate can persist to the following summer [Wang et al., 2000], with significantly more precipitation over the Yangtze River valley during the decaying stage of El Nin o events [Huang and Wu, 1989; Shen and Lau, 1995]. During La Nin a years, the aforementioned anomalies are generally reversed. [3] On the other hand, the interannual relationship between ENSO and the global climate is not stationary, and can be modulated by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) [Mantua et al., 1997]. For example, the typical influences of ENSO on the North American climate are strong and consistent only during the high phase of the PDO [Gershunov and Barnett, 1998]. The ENSO-Australia precipitation relationship is robust only during the low phase of the PDO [Power et al., 1999]. In the east Asia
Center for Monsoon System Research, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union. 0094-8276/08/2008GL035287$05.00
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3. Results
[5] The EAWM is generally characterized by cold and dry conditions [Chen et al., 2005]. Hence, we use the temperature field to represent the winter monsoon. Without distinguishing the phase of the PDO, the composite difference between 8 El Nin o winters and 7 La Nin a winters exhibits a clear warming over east Asia (figure not shown), indicating a weakened EAWM, which is consistent with previous studies [e.g., Chen et al., 2005, Figure 12b]. When the ENSO winters are divided into categories according to the phase of the PDO (Table 2), significant difference emerges. In the high phase of the PDO, low-level winter temperature anomalies over east Asia are weak (Figure 1a). In contrast, during the low phase of the PDO, the El Nin orelated warming patterns are robust and significant over east Asia, especially over the central China and the Northwest
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Table 1. Datasets Used in This Study


Resolution Surface air temperature ERA40 reanalysis CRUTEM3 HadISST1 PDO index 160 stations 2.5 2.5 5 5 1 1 Period of Record 1957 2001 1957 2001 1900 2005 1900 2005 1900 2005 Source China Meteorological Administration Uppala et al. [2005] Brohan et al. [2006] Rayner et al. [2003] http://jisao.washington.edu/pdo

Pacific (Figure 1b). These features can also be seen in the observed surface air temperature (SAT) from 160 China stations (Figures 1c and 1d). It implies that the ENSOEAWM relationship may depend on the phase of the PDO. [6] We note that the number of cases selected for composite is somewhat small for each PDO phases (Table 2). Hence, the dataset of gridded historical land surface temperature anomalies from longer record-CRUTEM3 is employed to confirm the results in Figure 1. CRUTEM3 covers a period from January 1850 to present. However, there are very few observation stations, from which CRUTEM3 is generated, over east Asia before 1900, so we only consider the winters from 1900 to 2005. The data period is first divided according to the phase of the PDO and then grouped together for the same PDO phase. This yields 61 (45) winters with high (low) phase of the PDO (see section 2). o3.4 [7] Figure 2 presents the regressed SAT on the Nin index for different phases of the PDO by using CRUTEM3. Clearly, the SAT over east Asia is closely related to the variability of Nin o3.4 index during the low phase of the PDO (Figure 2b), but it is not during the high phase of the PDO (Figure 2a). This is consistent with that in Figure 1, and suggests that the composite results from small samples by the ERA40 reanalysis and 160 China stations are robust. Therefore, the influence of ENSO on the EAWM is significant only during the low phase of the PDO. [8] An important question is why the ENSO-EAWM relationship has changed with the phase of the PDO. Previous studies have shown that ENSO exerts influence on the EAWM through a Pacific-east Asian teleconnection (PEAT) at low latitudes [Wang et al., 2000]. The PEAT is characterized by an anomalous low-level anticyclone over the western North Pacific to the east of Philippine [Wang et al., 2000] and associated southerly wind anomalies along the coasts of east Asia [Zhang et al., 1996]. However, the PEAT-related features display notable differences between the high and the low phases of the PDO (Figure 3). In the high phase of the PDO (Figure 3a), the anomalous anticyclone is located around the south of Philippine. The associated southerly wind over east Asia is weak and insignificant, and mainly confined to the south of 30N. This implies that the PEAT is not well established, and ENSO can hardly exert impact on the EAWM. In contrast, the location of PEAT anticyclone shifts northeastward to the east of Philippine in the low phase of the PDO, with strong and significant southerly wind penetrating almost to 50N along the east Asian coasts (Figure 3b). Therefore, the PEAT is well established, and ENSO exerts strong impact on the EAWM. [9] In addition to the PEAT at low latitudes, the midlatitude circulations response to ENSO also shows significant differences. In the low phase of the PDO, the ENSO-related 500-hPa geopotential height is characterized by a clear

Western Pacific pattern [Wallace and Gutzler, 1981] over east Asia (not shown) [see Wang et al., 2007, Figure 12a]. The composite sea level pressure (SLP) field implies a weakened Siberian High and an intensified North Pacific Oscillation (NPO) [Wallace and Gutzler, 1981] (Figure 4b). This distribution of SLP anomalies decreases the pressure gradient between the cold Eurasian continent and the warm North Pacific, and therefore weakens the EAWM. In the high phase of the PDO, the responses of midlatitude geopotential height [see Wang et al., 2007, Figure 12b] and SLP (Figure 4a) to ENSO are quite weak and insignificant over Northwest Pacific, in consistent with the weak ENSOEAWM relationship.

4. Summary and Discussions


[10] The present study identifies a clear interdecadal modulation of the PDO upon the impact of ENSO on the EAWM. In the high phase of the PDO, the interannual relationship between ENSO and EAWM is weak and insignificant. In the low phase of the PDO, in contrast, ENSO exerts strong impact on the EAWM, with robust and significant low-level temperature change occurring over east Asia. This result indicates that the generally accepted ENSO-EAWM relationship is not stationary, and it depends on the phase of the PDO. Therefore, the phase of the PDO should be taken into account when we use ENSO as a predictor for the EAWM. Further analyses reveal that such a modulation effect can be explained by the differences in low-latitude PEAT and in the midlatitude geopotential height response to ENSO over Northwest Pacific. These two atmospheric teleconnections are strong (weak) and significant (insignificant) during the low (high) phase of the PDO, and favor a close (weak) ENSO-EAWM relationship. [11] The reason for the changes in PEAT and ENSOrelated midlatitude atmospheric response is complex, and it may be attributed to the modulation of the PDO on the background of climatic conditions [Power et al., 1999]. In the high phase of the PDO, the Aleutian low is very strong. This may lead to the occurrence of the most dominant atmospheric variability over the North Pacific rather than in other areas (e.g., Figure 3a), and weaken the ENSO-EAWM relationship. In the low phase of the PDO, the situation tends to be reversed (e.g., Figure 3b). Moreover, the

Table 2. El Nin o and La Nin a Winters During 1957 2001 and Their Distribution With PDO Phase
PDO High El Nin o La Nin a 1982, 1986, 1994, 1997 1984, 1988, 1998, 1999 PDO Low 1957, 1965, 1972, 1991 1970, 1973, 1975

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Figure 1. Composite difference of winter mean (DJF) 850-hPa air temperature between El Nin o and La Nin a winters in (a) high and (b) low phase of the PDO based on the ERA40 reanalysis for the period 1957 2001. (c and d) Same as Figures 1a and 1b but for the observed SAT from 160 China stations. Contour intervals are 0.5C, zero contour lines are suppressed. Light, medium and dark shading indicate 90%, 95% and 99% confidence level, respectively. See Table 2 for the El Nin o and La Nin a winters for the composite.

Figure 2. Regression (contour)/correlation (shading) maps for the observed winter mean (DJF) SAT from CRUTEM3 on the normalized Nin o3.4 index in (a) high and (b) low phase of the PDO. Contour intervals are 0.5C, zero contour lines are suppressed. Light, medium and dark shading indicate 90%, 95% and 99% confidence level, respectively. See section 2 for the high and low phases of the PDO.

Figure 3. Composite difference of winter mean (DJF) 850-hPa wind field between El Nin o and La Nin a winters in (a) high and (b) low phase of the PDO based on the ERA40 reanalysis for the period 1957 2001. Light, medium and dark shading indicate 90%, 95% and 99% confidence level of meridional wind, respectively. See Table 2 for the El Nin o and La Nin a winters for the composite.
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Figure 4. The same as in Figure 3 but for the SLP field. Contour intervals are 1hPa, zero contour lines are suppressed.

modulation of the PDO on the background condition may not be the only possible explanation. For example, a recent study of Wang et al. [2008] found that the thermal condition of the North Pacific may modulate the pathway of the EAWM. The positive sea surface temperature anomalies may strengthen the EAWM flow penetrating to the tropics, and lead to a tighter ENSO-EAWM relationship. However, the exact mechanism is still not clear and it should be investigated by using a coupled atmospheric and oceanic general circulation model. [12] Acknowledgments. This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grants 40775035 and 40730952).

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W. Chen, R. Huang, and L. Wang, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, P.O. Box 2718, Beijing 100190, China. (cw@post.iap.ac.cn)

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