The dynamical basis for the Asian summer monsoon rainfall-El Niño linkage is explored through diagnostic calculations with a linear steady-state multilayer primitive equation model. The contrasting monsoon circulation during recent El Niño (1987) and La Niña (1988) years is first simulated using orography and the residually diagnosed heating (from the thermodynamic equation and the uninitialized, but mass-balanced, ECMWF analysts) as forcings, and then analyzed to provide insight into the importance of various regional forcings, such as the El Niño–related heating anomalies over the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans.

The striking simulation of the June–August (1987–1988) near-surface and upper-air tropical circulation anomalies indicates that tropical anomaly dynamics during northern summer is essentially linear even at the 150-mb level. The vertical structure of the residually diagnosed heating anomaly that contributes to this striking simulation differs significantly from the specified canonical vertical structure (used in generating 3D heating from OLR/precipitation distributions) near the tropical tropopause.

The dynamical diagnostic analysis of the anomalous circulation during 1987 and 1988 March–May and June–August periods shows the orographically forced circulation anomaly (due to changes in the zonally averaged basic-state flow) to be quite dominant in modulating the low-level moisture-flux convergence and hence monsoon rainfall over Indochina. The El Niño–related persistent (spring-to-summer) heating anomalies over the tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean basins, on the other hand, mostly regulate the low-level westerly monsoon flow intensity over equatorial Africa and the northern Indian Ocean and, thereby, the large-scale moisture flux into Sahel and Indochina.

The anomalous summer monsoon rainfall over Asian/African longitudes in turn, forces modest surface westerlies over the equatorial western and south tropical Pacific, which contribute positively to the ongoing El Niño's development.

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