The Strong El Niño of 2015/16 and Its Dominant Impacts on Global and China's Climate

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  • Corresponding author: ZHAI Panmao, pmzhai@cma.gov.cn
  • Funds:

    Supported by the National (Key) Basic Research and Development (973) Program of China (2012CB417205) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (41575094).

  • doi: 10.1007/s13351-016-6101-3

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  • The oceanic and atmospheric conditions and the related climate impacts of the 2015/16 ENSO cycle were analyzed, based on the latest global climate observational data, especially that of China. The results show that this strong El Niño event fully established in spring 2015 and has been rapidly developing into one of the three strongest El Niño episodes in recorded history. Meanwhile, it is also expected to be the longest event recorded, attributable to the stable maintenance of the abnormally warm conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean since spring 2014. Owing to the impacts of this strong event, along with climate warming background, the global surface temperature and the surface air temperature over Chinese mainland reached record highs in 2015. Disastrous weather in various places worldwide have occurred in association with this severe El Niño episode, and summer precipitation has reduced significantly in North China, especially over the bend of the Yellow River, central Inner Mongolia, and the coastal areas surrounding Bohai Bay. Serious drought has occurred in some of the above areas. The El Niño episode reached its peak strength during November-December 2015, when a lower-troposphere anomalous anticyclonic circulation prevailed over the Philippines, bringing about abnormal southerlies and substantially increased precipitation in southeastern China. At the same time, a negative phase of the Eurasia-Pacific teleconnection pattern dominated over the mid-high latitudes, which suppressed northerly winds in North China. These two factors together resulted in high concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and frequent haze weather in this region. Currently, this strong El Niño is weakening very rapidly, but its impact on climate will continue in the coming months in some regions, especially in China.
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The Strong El Niño of 2015/16 and Its Dominant Impacts on Global and China's Climate

    Corresponding author: ZHAI Panmao, pmzhai@cma.gov.cn
  • 1. State Key Laboratory of Severe Weather,Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences,Beijing 100081;
  • 2. College of Atmospheric Science,Nanjing University of Information Science &Technology,Nanjing 210044;
  • 3. National Climate Center,Beijing 100081;
  • 4. National Meteorological Information Center,Beijing 100081;
  • 5. School of Atmospheric Sciences,Nanjing University,Nanjing 210093
Funds: Supported by the National (Key) Basic Research and Development (973) Program of China (2012CB417205) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (41575094).

Abstract: The oceanic and atmospheric conditions and the related climate impacts of the 2015/16 ENSO cycle were analyzed, based on the latest global climate observational data, especially that of China. The results show that this strong El Niño event fully established in spring 2015 and has been rapidly developing into one of the three strongest El Niño episodes in recorded history. Meanwhile, it is also expected to be the longest event recorded, attributable to the stable maintenance of the abnormally warm conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean since spring 2014. Owing to the impacts of this strong event, along with climate warming background, the global surface temperature and the surface air temperature over Chinese mainland reached record highs in 2015. Disastrous weather in various places worldwide have occurred in association with this severe El Niño episode, and summer precipitation has reduced significantly in North China, especially over the bend of the Yellow River, central Inner Mongolia, and the coastal areas surrounding Bohai Bay. Serious drought has occurred in some of the above areas. The El Niño episode reached its peak strength during November-December 2015, when a lower-troposphere anomalous anticyclonic circulation prevailed over the Philippines, bringing about abnormal southerlies and substantially increased precipitation in southeastern China. At the same time, a negative phase of the Eurasia-Pacific teleconnection pattern dominated over the mid-high latitudes, which suppressed northerly winds in North China. These two factors together resulted in high concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and frequent haze weather in this region. Currently, this strong El Niño is weakening very rapidly, but its impact on climate will continue in the coming months in some regions, especially in China.

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