Extremely Active Tropical Cyclone Activities over the Western North Pacific and South China Sea in Summer 2018: Joint Effects of Decaying La Niña and Intraseasonal Oscillation


  • In summer 2018, a total of 18 tropical cyclones (TCs) formed in the western North Pacific (WNP) and South China Sea (SCS), among which 8 TCs landed in China, ranking respectively the second and the first highest since 1951. Most of these TCs travelled northwest to northward, bringing in heavy rainfall and strong winds in eastern China and Japan. The present study investigates the impacts of decaying La Niña and intraseasonal oscillation (ISO) on the extremely active TCs over the WNP and SCS in summer 2018 by use of correlation and composite analyses. It is found that the La Niña episode from October 2017 to March 2018 led to above-normal sea surface temperature (SST) over central–western Pacific, lower sea level pressure and 500-hPa geopotential height over WNP, and abnormally strong convective activities over the western Pacific in summer 2018. These preceding oceanic thermal conditions and their effects on circulation anomalies are favorable to TC genesis in summer. Detailed examination reveals that the monsoon trough was located further north and east, inducing more TCs in northern and eastern WNP; and the more eastward WNP subtropical high as well as the significant wave train with a “− + − +” height anomaly pattern over the midlatitude Eurasia–North Pacific region facilitated the northwest to northward TC tracks. Further analyses reveal that two successively active periods of Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) occurred in summer 2018 and the boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation (BSISO) was also active over WNP, propagating northward significantly, corresponding to the more northward TC tracks. The MJO was stagnant over the Maritime Continent to western Pacific, leading to notably enhanced convection in the lower troposphere and divergence in the upper troposphere, conducive to TC occurrences. In a word, the extremely active TC activities over the WNP and SCS in summer 2018 are closely linked with the decaying La Niña, and the MJO and BSISO; their joint effects result in increased TC occurrences and the TC tracks being shifted more northwest to northward than normal.
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