Drought is one of the important issues in climate studies. A drought index, Taiwan Meteorological Drought index (TMD index), was previously proposed and is applied here to identify historical severe droughts in Taiwan in order to clarify the corresponding large-scale backgrounds as a potential alert to the society in future. Through the TMD index, several historical severe drought cases in Taiwan are detected and characterized by significant seasonal variability in the annual cycle. Composites for large-scale atmospheric and oceanic environments over different periods within the dry season are conducted. From October to December, the colder sea surface temperature (SST) pattern of Pacific Meridional Mode (PMM) and the PMM-induced local anomalous anticyclones over the South China Sea are both in charge of the extremely dry conditions in Taiwan. From January to February, cold SST in the South China Sea and its adjacent oceans dominates local atmospheric conditions above these regions and creates an unfavorable environment for convection systems. From March to May, a massive anomalous anticyclonic circulation centering beside Alaska and extending its properties to East Asia and Taiwan generates a descending environment and in turn suppresses convection systems to develop. Therefore, the extremely dry conditions under this system are expected.
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