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Chia Chou, J. David Neelin, Ulrike Lohmann, and Johann Feichter

Abstract

Mechanisms that determine the direct and indirect effects of aerosols on the tropical climate involve moist dynamical processes and have local and remote impacts on regional tropical precipitation. These mechanisms are examined in a climate model of intermediate complexity [quasi-equilibrium tropical circulation model (QTCM)] forced by prescribed aerosol forcing, which is obtained from a general circulation model (ECHAM4). The aerosol reflection is the dominant aerosol forcing, while the aerosol absorption has complex but much weaker influences on the regional tropical precipitation based on the ECHAM4 aerosol forcing. The local effect associated with aerosols contributes negative precipitation anomalies over convective regions by affecting the net energy flux into the atmospheric column. This net energy flux is controlled by the radiative forcing at the top of the atmosphere on time scales where surface heat flux is near equilibrium, balancing anomalous solar radiation by evaporation, longwave radiation, and sensible heat. Considering the aerosol absorption effect alone, the associated precipitation anomalies are slightly negative but small when surface heat fluxes are near equilibrium. Two effects found in global warming, the upped-ante mechanism and the anomalous gross moist stability mechanism, occur with opposite sign in the aerosol case. Both act as remote effects via the widespread cold tropospheric temperature anomalies induced by the aerosol forcing. In the upped-ante mechanism in global warming, a warm troposphere increases the low-level moisture “ante” required for convection, creating spatially varying moisture anomalies that disfavor precipitation on those margins of convective zones where the mean flow imports air from nonconvective regions. In the aerosol case here, a cool troposphere preferentially decreases moisture in convective regions, creating positive precipitation anomalies at inflow margins. In the anomalous gross moist stability mechanism for the aerosol case, the decrease in moisture in convective regions acts to enhance the gross moist stability, so convection and the associated precipitation are reduced. The partitioning between the aerosol local and remote effects on regional tropical precipitation differs spatially. Over convective regions that have high aerosol concentration, such as the South American region, the aerosol local effect contributes more negative precipitation anomalies than the anomalous gross moist stability mechanism in the QTCM simulations. On the other hand, the remote effect is more important over convective regions with small aerosol concentrations, such as the western Pacific Maritime Continent. Remote effects of midlatitude aerosol forcing have a substantial contribution to tropical anomalies.

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Yang-Hui Hsu, Chia Chou, and Kuo-Yen Wei

Abstract

A series of model experiments were conducted using an intermediate ocean–atmosphere–land model for a better understanding of a distinct land–sea asymmetry in tropical precipitation differences between the mid-Holocene and preindustrial climates. In austral (boreal) summer, most reduced (enhanced) precipitation occurs over continental convective regions, while most enhanced (reduced) precipitation occurs over oceanic convection zones. This land–sea asymmetry of tropical precipitation is particularly clear in austral summer. During the mid-Holocene, the solar forcing presents both spatial and seasonal asymmetric patterns. While the boreal summer insolation is stronger at high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere in the mid-Holocene than at present, the austral summer insolation is weaker with a more spatially symmetric distribution about the equator. Because of the slow response time of the ocean to forcing, the direct insolation forcing of the current season is cancelled by the ocean memory of an earlier insolation forcing, which in the case of the mid-Holocene is opposite to the current season insolation forcing. As a result, tropical sea surface temperature variation, as well as the tropical atmospheric temperature and moisture changes, is small, which gives rise to a different precipitation response from under the condition of stronger atmospheric temperature and moisture changes, such as in the case of postindustrial global warming induced by an increased concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases. Thus, the cancellation between the direct and memory effects of the seasonally asymmetric insolation forcing leaves the net energy into the atmosphere to be responsible for the land–sea asymmetry of tropical precipitation changes.

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Chao-An Chen, Jia-Yuh Yu, and Chia Chou

Abstract

Global-warming-induced changes in regional tropical precipitation are usually associated with changes in the tropical circulation, which is a dynamic contribution. This study focuses on the mechanisms of the dynamic contribution that is related to the partition of shallow convection in tropical convection. To understand changes in tropical circulation and its associated mechanisms, 32 coupled global climate models from CMIP3 and CMIP5 were investigated. The study regions are convection zones with positive precipitation anomalies, where both enhanced and reduced ascending motions are found. Under global warming, an upward-shift structure of ascending motion is observed in the entire domain, implying a deepening of convection and a more stable atmosphere, which leads to a weakening of the tropical circulation. In a more detailed examination, areas with enhanced (weakened) ascending motion are associated with more (less) import of moist static energy by a climatologically bottom-heavy (top heavy) structure of vertical velocity, which is similar to a “rich get richer” mechanism. In a warmer climate, different climatological vertical profiles tend to induce different changes in atmospheric stability: the bottom-heavy (top heavy) structure brings a more (less) unstable condition and is favorable (unfavorable) to the strengthening of the convective circulation. The bottom-heavy structure is associated with shallow convection, while the top-heavy structure is usually related to deep convection. This study suggests a hypothesis and a possible linkage for projecting and understanding future circulation change from the current climate: shallow convection will tend to strengthen tropical circulation and enhance upward motion in a future warmer climate.

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Hien Xuan Bui, Jia-Yuh Yu, and Chia Chou

Abstract

Interactions between cumulus convection and its large-scale environment have been recognized as crucial to the understanding of tropical climate and its variability. In this study, the moist static energy (MSE) budget is employed to investigate the potential impact of the vertical structure of large-scale vertical motion in tropical climate based on results from both reanalysis data and model simulation. Two domains are selected over the western and eastern Pacific with vertical motion profiles that are dominated by top-heavy and bottom-heavy structures, respectively. The bottom-heavy structure is climatologically associated with more shallow convection, while the top-heavy structure is related to more deep convection. The column-integrated vertical MSE advection of top-heavy vertical motion is positive, while that of bottom-heavy vertical motion tends to be negative. Controlling factors responsible for the above vertical MSE advection contrast are discussed based on a simple decomposition of the MSE budget equation. It was found that the sign of vertical MSE advection is determined mainly by the vertical moisture transport, the magnitude of which is very sensitive to the structure of vertical motion. A top-heavy (bottom heavy) structure of vertical motion favors an export (import) of MSE and a positive (negative) value of the vertical MSE advection.

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Chia Chou, J. David Neelin, Chao-An Chen, and Jien-Yi Tu

Abstract

Examining tropical regional precipitation anomalies under global warming in 10 coupled global climate models, several mechanisms are consistently found. The tendency of rainfall to increase in convergence zones with large climatological precipitation and to decrease in subsidence regions—the rich-get-richer mechanism—has previously been examined in different approximations by Chou and Neelin, and Held and Soden. The effect of increased moisture transported by the mean circulation (the “direct moisture effect” or “thermodynamic component” in respective terminology) is relatively robust, while dynamic feedback is poorly understood and differs among models. The argument outlined states that the thermodynamic component should be a good approximation for large-scale averages; this is confirmed for averages across convection zones and descent regions, respectively. Within the convergence zones, however, dynamic feedback can substantially increase or decrease precipitation anomalies. Regions of negative precipitation anomalies within the convergence zones are associated with local weakening of ascent, and some of these exhibit horizontal dry advection associated with the “upped-ante” mechanism. Regions of increased ascent have strong positive precipitation anomalies enhanced by moisture convergence. This dynamic feedback is consistent with reduced gross moist stability due to increased moisture not being entirely compensated by effects of tropospheric warming and a vertical extent of convection. Regions of reduced ascent with positive precipitation anomalies are on average associated with changes in the vertical structure of vertical velocity, which extends to higher levels. This yields an increase in the gross moist stability that opposes ascent. The reductions in ascent associated with gross moist stability and upped-ante effects, respectively, combine to yield reduced ascent averaged across the convergence zones. Over climatological subsidence regions, positive precipitation anomalies can be associated with a convergence zone shift induced locally by anomalous heat flux from the ocean. Negative precipitation anomalies have a contribution from the thermodynamic component but can be enhanced or reduced by changes in the vertical velocity. Regions of enhanced subsidence are associated with an increased outgoing longwave radiation or horizontal cold convection. Reductions of subsidence are associated with changes of the vertical profile of vertical velocity, increasing gross moist stability.

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Chia Chou, Chao-An Chen, Pei-Hua Tan, and Kuan Ting Chen

Abstract

Global warming mechanisms that cause changes in frequency and intensity of precipitation in the tropics are examined in climate model simulations. Under global warming, tropical precipitation tends to be more frequent and intense for heavy precipitation but becomes less frequent and weaker for light precipitation. Changes in precipitation frequency and intensity are both controlled by thermodynamic and dynamic components. The thermodynamic component is induced by changes in atmospheric water vapor, while the dynamic component is associated with changes in vertical motion. A set of equations is derived to estimate both thermodynamic and dynamic contributions to changes in frequency and intensity of precipitation, especially for heavy precipitation. In the thermodynamic contribution, increased water vapor reduces the magnitude of the required vertical motion to generate the same strength of precipitation, so precipitation frequency increases. Increased water vapor also intensifies precipitation due to the enhancement of water vapor availability in the atmosphere. In the dynamic contribution, the more stable atmosphere tends to reduce the frequency and intensity of precipitation, except for the heaviest precipitation. The dynamic component strengthens the heaviest precipitation in most climate model simulations, possibly due to a positive convective feedback.

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Chung-Chuan Yang, Chun-Chieh Wu, Kun-Hsuan Chou, and Chia-Ying Lee

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A cyclonic loop was observed in the track of Typhoon Fungwong (2002) when it was about 765 n mi from Supertyphoon Fengshen (2002). It is shown that Fungwong’s special path is associated with the circulation of Fengshen, and such an association is regarded as an indication of binary interaction. In this paper, the binary interaction between Fengshen and Fungwong is studied based on the potential vorticity diagnosis. The impacts of large-scale flow fields on their motions are also investigated. Furthermore, the sensitivity of the storm characteristics to the binary interaction is demonstrated by the mesoscale numerical model simulations with different sizes and intensities for the initial bogused storms. Results of the study show that before Fungwong and Fengshen interacted with each other, their motions were governed by the large-scale environmental flow, that is, mainly associated with the subtropical high. During this binary interaction, Fungwong’s looping is partly attributed to Fengshen’s steering flow. This pattern shows up first as a case of one-way interaction in the early period, and then develops into a mutual interaction during the later stages. The numerical experiments show the sensitivity of the storm size and intensity to the binary interaction, implicating that a good representation of the initial storm vortex is important for the prediction of binary storms. Further analyses also indicate the influence of the monsoon trough and subtropical high systems on the binary interaction. These results provide some new insights into the motions of nearby typhoons embedded in the monsoon circulation.

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Chia Chou, Li-Fan Huang, Jien-Yi Tu, Lishan Tseng, and Yu-Chieh Hsueh

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In this study, the western North Pacific–East Asian (WNP–EA) rainfall anomaly induced by the strong El Niño in 1982–83, 1991–92, and 1997–98, and its association with the mean state, are examined. Over the northern part of the WNP–EA region (north of 20°N), which is dominated by southwest–northeast tilting frontal systems, positive rainfall anomalies from the fall before the El Niño peak phase (year 0) to the first wet period after the peak phase (year 1) are affected by low- and midlevel horizontal moisture convergence anomalies induced by low-level anticyclonic circulation anomalies over the WNP region that are associated with El Niño. Over the southern part of the WNP–EA region (south of 20°N), which is dominated by tropical convection, positive precipitation anomalies in the first and second wet periods of year 0 and negative precipitation anomalies from the fall of year 0 to the second wet period of year 1 are associated with the variation of the net energy into the atmosphere, which is mainly contributed to by local evaporation anomalies. The mechanisms for inducing the precipitation anomalies over both northern and southern parts of the WNP–EA region are similar to the mechanisms of the mean precipitation in each rainy period, but the detailed processes for the southern WNP–EA precipitation anomalies are more complicated, particularly in summer. In the first wet periods of years 0 and 1 and the fall of year 0, the precipitation anomalies are induced by evaporation anomalies that are contributed to by similar effects of sea surface temperature (SST) and wind speed anomalies. In the second wet period of years 0 and 1, on the other hand, near-surface wind speed anomalies affect precipitation via the process of evaporation. These wind speed anomalies are associated with the concurrence of the low-level circulation anomalies over the WNP region and the Asian summer monsoon trough. The SST anomalies are merely a response to evaporation and downward solar radiation anomalies. The dependence of the rainfall anomalies on the mean state, that is, similar causes for the rainfall mean and anomalies in each rainy period, implies that the mean state plays a key role in simulating the interannual variation over the WNP–EA region.

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Chia Chou, J. David Neelin, Jien-Yi Tu, and Cheng-Ta Chen

Abstract

Mechanisms of global warming impacts on regional tropical precipitation are examined in a coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model (ECHAM4/OPYC3). The pattern of the regional tropical precipitation changes, once established, tends to persist, growing in magnitude as greenhouse gases increase. The sulfate aerosol induces regional tropical precipitation anomalies similar to the greenhouse gases but with opposite sign, thus reducing the early signal. Evidence for two main mechanisms, the upped-ante and the anomalous gross moist stability (M′) mechanisms (previously proposed in an intermediate complexity model), is found in this more comprehensive coupled general circulation model. Preferential moisture increase occurs in convection zones. The upped-ante mechanism signature of dry advection from nonconvective regions is found in tropical drought regions on the margins of convection zones. Here advection in both the atmospheric boundary layer and lower free troposphere are found to be important, with an additional contribution from horizontal temperature transport in some locations. The signature of the M′ mechanism—moisture convergence due to increased moisture in regions of large mean vertical motion—enhances precipitation within strong convective regions. Ocean dynamical feedbacks can be assessed by net surface flux, the main example being the El Niño–like shift of the equatorial Pacific convection zone. Cloud–radiative feedbacks are found to oppose precipitation anomalies over ocean regions.

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Chia Chou, Li-Fan Huang, Lishan Tseng, Jien-Yi Tu, and Pei-Hua Tan

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The annual cycle of precipitation over the western North Pacific and East Asian (WNP–EA) sector has five major periods: spring, the first and second wet periods, fall, and winter. In this study, processes that induce precipitation in each period are examined from a large-scale point of view. The wet phase over this sector has two distinct periods, which are dominated by the Asian summer monsoon circulation induced by the land–ocean contrast of net energy into the atmospheric column (F net). In the first wet period, the pre-mei-yu/mei-yu rainband is directly associated with a moisture flux convergence caused by the southwesterly Asian summer monsoon flow and the southeasterly trade winds, and indirectly associated with a dynamic feedback induced by this horizontal moisture convergence. The tropical convection, in the meantime, is associated with a rising motion that is induced by positive F net. In the second wet period, the WNP summer monsoon gyre dominates the rainfall of this region, which is partially associated with warmer local sea surface temperature (SST) via positive F net. The land–sea contrast of F net and the atmosphere–ocean interaction also play an important role in establishing the monsoon gyre. The dry phase over the WNP–EA region is the winter period in which precipitation is associated with winter storm activities and large-scale lifting associated with a pressure surge. In the two transition phases, due to a difference in heat capacity, the atmosphere and ocean have distinct impacts on precipitation, albeit similar solar insolations during the two periods. In the spring period, the atmospheric condition is favorable for convection, while the ocean surface is relatively colder, so the horizontal moisture advection associated with the westward extent of the Pacific subtropical high, which is different from a typical winter frontal system, is a major source for the spring rain. In the fall period, however, the atmospheric conditions dominated by the Asian winter monsoon circulation suppress convection, while relatively warmer SST still maintains tropical convection over the southern part of the WNP–EA region. Over the northern part of the WNP–EA region, the fall precipitation is associated with frontal systems, similar to those in winter.

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