The occurrence of wintertime cold surges (CSs) over East Asia is largely controlled by the surface air temperature (SAT) distribution at high latitudes and thermal advection in the lower troposphere. The thermodynamic background state over northeastern Asia is associated with the strength of the East Asian winter monsoon and the variation of Arctic Oscillation. This study assesses the importance of the SAT structure with thermal advection in determining the frequency of CS occurrences over East Asia through the analysis of nine atmosphere–ocean coupled global climate models participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5. The historical simulations can reproduce the observed typical characteristics of CS development. On the basis of this model performance, ensemble-averaged future simulations under the representative concentration pathway 8.5 project a reduction in CS frequency by 1.1 yr−1
in the late 21st century (2065–2095) compared to the present-day period (1975–2005). The major reason for less frequent CSs in the future is the weakened cold advection, caused by notable SAT warming over the northern part of East Asia. These results suggest that changes in the meridional SAT structure and the associated changes in thermal advection would play a more substantial role than local warming in determining future changes in the frequency of CS occurrences over East Asia.
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