Seasonal Sensitivity of the Cross-Equatorial Hadley Cell Response to Extratropical Thermal Forcings

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
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Abstract

This study explores the seasonal sensitivity of tropical circulation responses to an idealized extratropical thermal forcing using Community Atmosphere Model version 5 coupled to a slab ocean. The thermal heating over the Southern Ocean is held constant, and the tropical responses in each month of the year are investigated. An anomalous cross-equatorial cell and a southward tropical rain belt shift occur every month. The anomalous cross-equatorial cell has a strong influence on the strengths of the Hadley cell and the subtropical jet in the winter hemisphere; in contrast, it has nearly no impact on the Hadley cell and the subtropical jet strengths in the summer hemisphere.

The seasonal variation of the anomalous cross-equatorial cell is small (<∼ 30% of the annual mean change), and could be understood via the energetic and the sea surface temperature gradient perspectives. Both perspectives point to the seasonality of the anomalous ocean heat uptake within the deep tropics as the key factor explaining the weak seasonality of the anomalous cross-equatorial cell. We propose a hypothesis explaining about 75% of this seasonal variation via the climatological position of the ITCZ relative to the anomalous cross-equatorial cell.

The results suggest a modest seasonality in tropical precipitation and circulation responses to extratropical forcing. Also, such seasonality may be partly predicted by the climatological seasonal cycle of the tropical circulations.

corresponding author: ythwang@ntu.edu.tw

Abstract

This study explores the seasonal sensitivity of tropical circulation responses to an idealized extratropical thermal forcing using Community Atmosphere Model version 5 coupled to a slab ocean. The thermal heating over the Southern Ocean is held constant, and the tropical responses in each month of the year are investigated. An anomalous cross-equatorial cell and a southward tropical rain belt shift occur every month. The anomalous cross-equatorial cell has a strong influence on the strengths of the Hadley cell and the subtropical jet in the winter hemisphere; in contrast, it has nearly no impact on the Hadley cell and the subtropical jet strengths in the summer hemisphere.

The seasonal variation of the anomalous cross-equatorial cell is small (<∼ 30% of the annual mean change), and could be understood via the energetic and the sea surface temperature gradient perspectives. Both perspectives point to the seasonality of the anomalous ocean heat uptake within the deep tropics as the key factor explaining the weak seasonality of the anomalous cross-equatorial cell. We propose a hypothesis explaining about 75% of this seasonal variation via the climatological position of the ITCZ relative to the anomalous cross-equatorial cell.

The results suggest a modest seasonality in tropical precipitation and circulation responses to extratropical forcing. Also, such seasonality may be partly predicted by the climatological seasonal cycle of the tropical circulations.

corresponding author: ythwang@ntu.edu.tw
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