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Monsoon Dynamics with Interactive Forcing. Part I: Axisymmetric Studies

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  • 1 Program in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
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Abstract

The applicability of axisymmetric theory of angular momentum conserving circulations to the large-scale steady monsoon is studied in a general circulation model with idealized representations of continental geometry and simple physics. Results from an aquaplanet setup with localized subtropical forcing are compared with a continental case. It is found that the meridional circulation that develops is close to angular momentum conserving for cross-equatorial circulation cells, both in the aquaplanet and in the continental cases. The equator proves to be a substantial barrier to boundary layer meridional flow; flow into the summer hemisphere from the winter hemisphere tends to occur in the free troposphere rather than in the boundary layer. A theory is proposed to explain the location of the monsoon; assuming quasiequilibrium, the poleward boundary of the monsoon circulation is collocated with the maximum in subcloud moist static energy, with the monsoon rains occurring near and slightly equatorward of this maximum. The model results support this theory of monsoon location, and it is found that the subcloud moist static energy distribution is determined by a balance between surface forcing and advection by the large-scale flow.

Corresponding author address: Nikki Privé, Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, NOAA/ESRL, R/GSD, 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80305-3337. Email: nikki.prive@noaa.gov

Abstract

The applicability of axisymmetric theory of angular momentum conserving circulations to the large-scale steady monsoon is studied in a general circulation model with idealized representations of continental geometry and simple physics. Results from an aquaplanet setup with localized subtropical forcing are compared with a continental case. It is found that the meridional circulation that develops is close to angular momentum conserving for cross-equatorial circulation cells, both in the aquaplanet and in the continental cases. The equator proves to be a substantial barrier to boundary layer meridional flow; flow into the summer hemisphere from the winter hemisphere tends to occur in the free troposphere rather than in the boundary layer. A theory is proposed to explain the location of the monsoon; assuming quasiequilibrium, the poleward boundary of the monsoon circulation is collocated with the maximum in subcloud moist static energy, with the monsoon rains occurring near and slightly equatorward of this maximum. The model results support this theory of monsoon location, and it is found that the subcloud moist static energy distribution is determined by a balance between surface forcing and advection by the large-scale flow.

Corresponding author address: Nikki Privé, Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, NOAA/ESRL, R/GSD, 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80305-3337. Email: nikki.prive@noaa.gov

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