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Jianhua Sun and Fuqing Zhang

Abstract

Convection-permitting numerical experiments using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model are performed to examine the impact of a thermally driven mountain–plains solenoid (MPS) on the diurnal variations of precipitation and mesoscale convective vortices along the mei-yu front over the east China plains during 1–10 July 2007. The focus of the analyses is a 10-day simulation that used the 10-day average of the global analysis at 0000 UTC as the initial condition and the 10-day averages every 6 h as lateral boundary conditions (with diurnal variations only). Despite differences in the rainfall intensity and location, this idealized experiment successfully simulated the observed diurnal variation and eastward propagation of rainfall and mesoscale convective vortices along the mei-yu front. It was found that the upward branch of the MPS, along with the attendant nocturnal low-level jet, is primarily responsible for the midnight-to-early-morning rainfall enhancement along the mei-yu front. The MPS is induced by differential heating between the high mountain ranges in central China and the low-lying plains in east China. Diabatic heating from moist convection initiated and/or enhanced by the solenoid circulation subsequently leads to the formation of a mesoscale convective vortex that further organizes and amplifies moist convection while propagating eastward along the mei-yu front. The downward branch of the MPS, on the other hand, leads to the suppression of precipitation over the plains during the daytime. The impacts of this regional MPS on the rainfall diurnal variations are further attested to by another idealized WRF simulation that uses fixed lateral boundary conditions.

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Xinghua Bao, Fuqing Zhang, and Jianhua Sun

Abstract

This study explores the diurnal variations of the warm-season precipitation to the east of the Tibetan Plateau over China using the high-resolution NOAA/Climate Prediction Center morphing technique (CMORPH) precipitation data and the Global Forecast System (GFS) gridded analyses during mid-May to mid-August of 2003–09. Complementary to the past studies using satellite or surface observations, it is found that there are strong diurnal variations in the summertime precipitation over the focus domain to the east of the Tibetan Plateau. These diurnal precipitation cycles are strongly associated with several thermally driven regional mountain–plains solenoids due to the differential heating between the Tibetan Plateau, the highlands, the plains, and the ocean. The diurnal cycles differ substantially from region to region and during the three different month-long periods: the pre-mei-yu period (15 May–15 June), the mei-yu period (15 June–15 July), and the post-mei-yu period (15 July–15 August).

In particular, there is a substantial difference in the propagation speed and eastward extent of the peak phase of the dominant diurnal precipitation cycle that is originated from the Tibetan Plateau. This diurnal peak has a faster (slower) eastward propagation speed, the more (less) coherent propagation duration, and thus covers the longest (shortest) distance to the east during the pre-mei-yu (post-mei-yu) period than that during the mei-yu period. The differences in the mean midlatitude westerly flow and in the positioning and strength of the western Pacific subtropical high during different periods are the key factors in explaining the difference in the propagation speed and the eastward extent of this dominant diurnal precipitation cycle.

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