Hemispheric Insolation Forcing of the Indian Ocean and Asian Monsoon: Local versus Remote Impacts

Xiaodong Liu SKLLQG, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi’an, China

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Zhengyu Liu Center for Climatic Research, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin

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John E. Kutzbach Center for Climatic Research, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin

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Steven C. Clemens Geological Sciences, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

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Warren L. Prell Geological Sciences, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

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Abstract

Insolation forcing related to the earth’s orbital parameters is known to play an important role in regulating variations of the South Asian monsoon on geological time scales. The influence of insolation forcing on the Indian Ocean and Asian monsoon is studied in this paper by isolating the Northern and Southern Hemispheric insolation changes in several numerical experiments with a coupled ocean–atmosphere model. The focus is on the response of South Asian summer rainfall (monsoon strength) with emphasis on impacts of the local versus remote forcing and possible mechanisms. The model results show that both Northern Hemisphere (NH) and Southern Hemisphere (SH) summer insolation changes affect the Indian Ocean and Asian monsoon as a local forcing (in the same hemisphere), but only the SH changes result in remote (in the other hemisphere) forcing. The NH insolation change has a local and immediate impact on NH summer monsoons from North Africa to South and East Asia, while the SH insolation change has a remote and seasonal-scale delayed effect on the South Asian summer monsoon rainfall. When the SH insolation is increased from December to April, the sea surface temperature (SST) in the southern tropical Indian Ocean remains high from January to July. The increased SST produces more atmospheric precipitable water over the southern tropical Indian Ocean by promoting evaporation from the ocean. The enhanced precipitable water over the southern Indian Ocean is transported northward to the South Asian monsoon region by the lower-tropospheric mean cross-equatorial flows with the onset of the Asian monsoon increasing precipitable water over South Asia, eventually leading to the increase of Indian summer monsoon precipitation. Thus, these model experiments, while idealized and not fully representing actual orbitally forced insolation changes, confirm the broadscale response of northern monsoons to NH summer insolation increases and also illustrate how SH summer insolation increases can have a delayed influence on the Indian summer monsoon.

* Center for Climate Research Contribution Number 891

Corresponding author address: Dr. Xiaodong Liu, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 10 Fenghui South Road, Hi-Tech Zone, P.O. Box 17, Xi’An 710075, China. Email: liuxd@loess.llqg.ac.cn

Abstract

Insolation forcing related to the earth’s orbital parameters is known to play an important role in regulating variations of the South Asian monsoon on geological time scales. The influence of insolation forcing on the Indian Ocean and Asian monsoon is studied in this paper by isolating the Northern and Southern Hemispheric insolation changes in several numerical experiments with a coupled ocean–atmosphere model. The focus is on the response of South Asian summer rainfall (monsoon strength) with emphasis on impacts of the local versus remote forcing and possible mechanisms. The model results show that both Northern Hemisphere (NH) and Southern Hemisphere (SH) summer insolation changes affect the Indian Ocean and Asian monsoon as a local forcing (in the same hemisphere), but only the SH changes result in remote (in the other hemisphere) forcing. The NH insolation change has a local and immediate impact on NH summer monsoons from North Africa to South and East Asia, while the SH insolation change has a remote and seasonal-scale delayed effect on the South Asian summer monsoon rainfall. When the SH insolation is increased from December to April, the sea surface temperature (SST) in the southern tropical Indian Ocean remains high from January to July. The increased SST produces more atmospheric precipitable water over the southern tropical Indian Ocean by promoting evaporation from the ocean. The enhanced precipitable water over the southern Indian Ocean is transported northward to the South Asian monsoon region by the lower-tropospheric mean cross-equatorial flows with the onset of the Asian monsoon increasing precipitable water over South Asia, eventually leading to the increase of Indian summer monsoon precipitation. Thus, these model experiments, while idealized and not fully representing actual orbitally forced insolation changes, confirm the broadscale response of northern monsoons to NH summer insolation increases and also illustrate how SH summer insolation increases can have a delayed influence on the Indian summer monsoon.

* Center for Climate Research Contribution Number 891

Corresponding author address: Dr. Xiaodong Liu, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 10 Fenghui South Road, Hi-Tech Zone, P.O. Box 17, Xi’An 710075, China. Email: liuxd@loess.llqg.ac.cn

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