Last Updated:

July 25, 2013

The CMA Tropical Cyclone Database

Tropical cyclones (TCs) are among the most destructive weather systems to occur over China, and the entire coastal area between the tropics and the midlatitudes has been affected. Almost all provinces of China, except Xinjiang and Qinghai, have felt the effects of either the damaging winds or torrential rainfall associated with tropical cyclones.

In China, the disastrous consequences of tropical cyclones have long been recorded in the annals of local history, ancient notes, and books, and these documents are an important source of information regarding the impact of tropical cyclones on human society.

With the development of modern meteorological techniques, an increasing amount of observational data became available for creating a specialized tropical cyclone database. Between 1969 and 1972, the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) sponsored a reanalysis project for tropical cyclone related data (1949–1971), and established the basis for the current CMA tropical cyclone database. Today, the post-season reanalysis and annual updating of the database has become a routine task for the Shanghai Typhoon Institute (STI), with the endorsement of the CMA and support from various institutions of the CMA. Based on the annually updated database, the Tropical Cyclone Yearbook and its CD version are published each year.

A Brief History of Tropical Cyclone Data in China

  • Details of tropical cyclones and their impacts on the population can be found in local records and historical texts. Quantitative observation of precipitation began during the Ming Dynasty.
  • Modern meteorological instruments started to become available in the 1880s, and tropical cyclone data have been collected and documented since then.
  • In 1920, Louis Froc, the director of the Zika-Wei Observatory, compiled the Atlas of the Tracks of 620 Typhoons, 1893–1918. This atlas includes 620 typhoons and 1264 depressions that occurred between 1893 and 1918. The tropical cyclone that hit Shanghai on 28 July 1915 is also analyzed in this atlas.
  • In 1957, Youxi Gao and You’en Zeng edited and published a Chinese book entitled Tracks of Typhoons and Related Statistics. This book not only included the tracks of tropical cyclones that occurred during the periods 1894–1896 and 1988–1955, but also statistics on tropical cyclone frequency, genesis locations, recurving tracks, and landfall locations.
  • In 1959, the Shanghai Meteorological Center compiled the Atlas of East Asian Typhoons. In addition to the tracks of tropical cyclones that occurred between 1899 and 1940, in September and October 1945, and between 1946 and 1956, the atlas also analyzed genesis locations and track patterns.
  • In 1960, the Shanghai and Guangzhou meteorological centers compiled and published the Typhoon Yearbook of 1957. This work was continued until the Typhoon Yearbook of 1962 (published in 1967).
  • In 1971, the Central Meteorological Bureau (i.e., the CMA) sponsored a reanalysis project of tropical cyclone data and published a series of Typhoon Yearbooks for the period 1949–1971. This project included contributions from experts from various institutions within the CMA, and experts from the Nanjing Institute of Meteorology, the Shandong Institute of Oceanography, and so on. Datasets of tropical cyclone best tracks and tropical cyclone-induced severe winds, rainfall, and storm surges were also established as part of this project.
  • From 1972, the annual post-season reanalysis and update of the tropical cyclone database was completed by the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau, but became the responsibility of Shanghai Typhoon Institute (STI) in 1981.
  • In 1984, the STI compiled and released an atlas (in Chinese) entitled The Western North Pacific Typhoon Data (1949–1980).
  • In 1989, the CMA adopted the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) tropical cyclone scales, and the Typhoon Yearbook was renamed the Tropical Cyclone Yearbook.
  • In 1990, the STI compiled a Chinese–English bilingual atlas entitled Climatological Atlas for Northwest Pacific Tropical Cyclones, which was published by China Meteorological Press.
  • In 1995, the Climatological Atlas for Abrupt Changes of the Western North Pacific Tropical Cyclone was edited and published by the National Key Technologies R&D Program of China during the 8th Five-Year Plan Period (Grant 85-906-07).
  • In 2000, the Chinese version of the Climatological Atlas for East Part of China Tropical Cyclones (1949–1998) was compiled by the STI, supported by the National Key Project of China during the 9th Five-Year Plan Period (Grant 96-908-05-06).
  • In 2001, the Tropical Cyclone Yearbook CD was released.
  • In 2005, the contents and format of the printed version of the Tropical Cyclone Yearbook were revised.
  • In 2007, the STI compiled a Chinese–English bilingual atlas entitled Climatological Atlas of Tropical Cyclones Affecting China (1951–2000), which was published by Science Press, China.
  • In 2007, the CMA Tropical Cyclone Best Track Dataset was released at
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