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Hadley Circulation Response to Orbital Precession. Part II: Subtropical Continent

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  • 1 Princeton University, and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey
  • 2 California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
  • 3 Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
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Abstract

The response of the monsoonal and annual-mean Hadley circulation to orbital precession is examined in an idealized atmospheric general circulation model with a simplified representation of land surface processes in subtropical latitudes. When perihelion occurs in the summer of a hemisphere with a subtropical continent, changes in the top-of-atmosphere energy balance, together with a poleward shift of the monsoonal circulation boundary, lead to a strengthening of the monsoonal circulation. Spatial variations in surface heat capacity determine whether radiative perturbations are balanced by energy storage or by atmospheric energy fluxes. Although orbital precession does not affect annual-mean insolation, the annual-mean Hadley circulation does respond to orbital precession because its sensitivity to radiative changes varies over the course of the year: the monsoonal circulation in summer is near the angular momentum-conserving limit and responds directly to radiative changes; whereas in winter, the circulation is affected by the momentum fluxes of extratropical eddies and is less sensitive to radiative changes.

Corresponding author address: Timothy M. Merlis, Princeton University, and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Jadwin Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544. E-mail: tmerlis@princeton.edu

Abstract

The response of the monsoonal and annual-mean Hadley circulation to orbital precession is examined in an idealized atmospheric general circulation model with a simplified representation of land surface processes in subtropical latitudes. When perihelion occurs in the summer of a hemisphere with a subtropical continent, changes in the top-of-atmosphere energy balance, together with a poleward shift of the monsoonal circulation boundary, lead to a strengthening of the monsoonal circulation. Spatial variations in surface heat capacity determine whether radiative perturbations are balanced by energy storage or by atmospheric energy fluxes. Although orbital precession does not affect annual-mean insolation, the annual-mean Hadley circulation does respond to orbital precession because its sensitivity to radiative changes varies over the course of the year: the monsoonal circulation in summer is near the angular momentum-conserving limit and responds directly to radiative changes; whereas in winter, the circulation is affected by the momentum fluxes of extratropical eddies and is less sensitive to radiative changes.

Corresponding author address: Timothy M. Merlis, Princeton University, and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Jadwin Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544. E-mail: tmerlis@princeton.edu
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