Volume 73 (1995) Issue 1 Pages 105-124
In this paper, the interannual variability of the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) rainfall and the tropical sea surface temperature (SST) have been studied. It is found that the EASM rainfall possesses a strong biennial signal, which is particularly pronounced over the southeast China. For the SST, the biennial oscillation is the second most significant quasi-periodic signal over the entire tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans. Results indicate that the biennial variations in the SST and EASM rainfall are closely linked. The SST pattern which is best correlated with EASM rainfall appears in the form of a double see-saw with quasi-stationary centers of action over the Indian Ocean, the Asian monsoon region and the eastern Pacific. The most pronounced SST signals are found in the equatorial eastern Pacific and Indian Ocean about two seasons preceding and following the EASM rainfall.
Evidence is presented suggesting that the biennial variability of the EASM rainfall is phase-locked to a global scale biennial oscillation involving the interplay of the Asian monsoon, the Hadley and Walker circulations, and basin wide fluctuations in SST. In particular, the eastward propagation of zonal wind anomalies from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific, which regulates the moisture fluxes from the western Pacific to the East Asian region, appears to be a key component of the biennial fluctuation associated with EASM rainfall. Results suggest that the relationship between the Asian monsoon and tropical SST is more robust in the biennial than the ENSO time scale, hence raising the possibility that the biennial oscillation may be more fundamentally related to monsoon-ocean-atmosphere interaction than ENSO itself.