Toward predicting changes in the land monsoon rainfall a decade in advance

Bin Wang, Juan Li, Mark A. Cane, Jian Liu, Peter J. Webster, Baoqiang Xiang, Hye Mi Kim, Jian Cao, Kyung Ja Ha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Predictions of changes of the land monsoon rainfall (LMR) in the coming decades are of vital importance for successful sustainable economic development. Current dynamic models, though, have shown little skill in the decadal prediction of the Northern Hemisphere (NH) LMR (NHLMR). The physical basis and predictability for such predictions remain largely unexplored. Decadal change of the NHLMR reflects changes in the total NH continental precipitation, tropical general circulation, and regional land monsoon rainfall over northern Africa, India, East Asia, and North America. Using observations from 1901 to 2014 and numerical experiments, it is shown that the decadal variability of the NHLMR is rooted primarily in (i) the north-south hemispheric thermal contrast in the Atlantic-Indian Ocean sector measured by the North Atlantic-south Indian Ocean dipole (NAID) sea surface temperature (SST) index and (ii) an east-west thermal contrast in the Pacific measured by an extended El Niño-Southern Oscillation (XEN) index. Results from a 500-yr preindustrial control experiment demonstrate that the leading mode of decadal NHLMR and the associated NAID and XEN SST anomalies may be largely an internal mode of Earth's climate system, although possibly modified by natural and anthropogenic external forcing. A 51-yr, independent forward-rolling decadal hindcast was made with a hybrid dynamic conceptual model and using the NAID index predicted by a multiclimate model ensemble. The results demonstrate that the decadal changes in the NHLMR can be predicted approximately a decade in advance with significant skills, opening a promising way forward for decadal predictions of regional land monsoon rainfall worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2699-2714
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2018

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© 2018 American Meteorological Society.


  • Atmosphere-ocean interaction
  • Climate prediction
  • Decadal variability
  • Monsoons


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