Influence of Soil Moisture on the Asian and African Monsoons. Part II: Interannual Variability

H. Douville Météo-France, Toulouse, France

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Abstract

The relevance of soil moisture (SM) for simulating the interannual climate variability has not been much investigated until recently. Much more attention has been paid on SST anomalies, especially in the Tropics where the El Niño–Southern Oscillation represents the main mode of variability. In the present study, ensembles of atmospheric integrations based on the Action de Recherche Petit Echelle Grande Echelle (ARPEGE) climate model have been performed for two summer seasons: 1987 and 1988, respectively. The aim is to compare the relative impacts of using realistic boundary conditions of SST and SM on the simulated variability of the Asian and African monsoons. Besides control runs with interactive SM, sensitivity tests have been done in which SM is relaxed toward a state-of-the-art SM climatology, either globally or regionally over the monsoon domain. The simulations indicate that the variations of the Asian monsoon between 1987 and 1988 are mainly driven by SST anomalies. This result might be explained by the strong teleconnection with the ENSO and by a weak SM–precipitation feedback over south Asia (Part I of the study). The influence of SM is more obvious over Africa. The model needs both realistic SST and SM boundary conditions to simulate the observed variability of the Sahelian monsoon rainfall. The positive impact of the SM relaxation is not only due to a local mechanism whereby larger surface evaporation leads to larger precipitation. The best results are obtained when the relaxation is applied globally, suggesting that remote SM impacts also contribute to the improved simulation of the precipitation variability. A relationship between the Sahelian rainfall anomalies and the meridional wind anomalies over North Africa points out the possible influence of the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes. The comparison of the low- and midtropospheric anomalies in the various pairs of experiments indicates that SM anomalies can trigger stationary waves over Europe, and thereby promote the intrusion of dry air from the midlatitudes into the Tropics. The study therefore emphasizes the relevance of SM for seasonal climate predictions, at least in summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and shows a dynamical interaction between the Tropics and extratropics.

Corresponding author address: Hervé Douville, CNRM/GMGEC/UDC, Météo-France, 42 Avenue Coriolis, 31057 Toulouse Cedex, France. Email: herve.douville@meteo.fr

Abstract

The relevance of soil moisture (SM) for simulating the interannual climate variability has not been much investigated until recently. Much more attention has been paid on SST anomalies, especially in the Tropics where the El Niño–Southern Oscillation represents the main mode of variability. In the present study, ensembles of atmospheric integrations based on the Action de Recherche Petit Echelle Grande Echelle (ARPEGE) climate model have been performed for two summer seasons: 1987 and 1988, respectively. The aim is to compare the relative impacts of using realistic boundary conditions of SST and SM on the simulated variability of the Asian and African monsoons. Besides control runs with interactive SM, sensitivity tests have been done in which SM is relaxed toward a state-of-the-art SM climatology, either globally or regionally over the monsoon domain. The simulations indicate that the variations of the Asian monsoon between 1987 and 1988 are mainly driven by SST anomalies. This result might be explained by the strong teleconnection with the ENSO and by a weak SM–precipitation feedback over south Asia (Part I of the study). The influence of SM is more obvious over Africa. The model needs both realistic SST and SM boundary conditions to simulate the observed variability of the Sahelian monsoon rainfall. The positive impact of the SM relaxation is not only due to a local mechanism whereby larger surface evaporation leads to larger precipitation. The best results are obtained when the relaxation is applied globally, suggesting that remote SM impacts also contribute to the improved simulation of the precipitation variability. A relationship between the Sahelian rainfall anomalies and the meridional wind anomalies over North Africa points out the possible influence of the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes. The comparison of the low- and midtropospheric anomalies in the various pairs of experiments indicates that SM anomalies can trigger stationary waves over Europe, and thereby promote the intrusion of dry air from the midlatitudes into the Tropics. The study therefore emphasizes the relevance of SM for seasonal climate predictions, at least in summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and shows a dynamical interaction between the Tropics and extratropics.

Corresponding author address: Hervé Douville, CNRM/GMGEC/UDC, Météo-France, 42 Avenue Coriolis, 31057 Toulouse Cedex, France. Email: herve.douville@meteo.fr

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