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Nikki C. Privé and R. Alan Plumb

Abstract

The applicability of axisymmetric theory of angular momentum conserving circulations to the large-scale steady monsoon is studied in a general circulation model with idealized representations of continental geometry and simple physics. Results from an aquaplanet setup with localized subtropical forcing are compared with a continental case. It is found that the meridional circulation that develops is close to angular momentum conserving for cross-equatorial circulation cells, both in the aquaplanet and in the continental cases. The equator proves to be a substantial barrier to boundary layer meridional flow; flow into the summer hemisphere from the winter hemisphere tends to occur in the free troposphere rather than in the boundary layer. A theory is proposed to explain the location of the monsoon; assuming quasiequilibrium, the poleward boundary of the monsoon circulation is collocated with the maximum in subcloud moist static energy, with the monsoon rains occurring near and slightly equatorward of this maximum. The model results support this theory of monsoon location, and it is found that the subcloud moist static energy distribution is determined by a balance between surface forcing and advection by the large-scale flow.

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Nikki C. Privé and R. Alan Plumb

Abstract

The roles of eddies and forcing asymmetry in the dynamics of the large-scale monsoon circulation are investigated with a general circulation model. The net impact of eddies is found to be a slight weakening of the zonal mean monsoon circulation. The eddies strongly impact the momentum budget of the circulation, but the qualitative behavior of the monsoon flow is not substantially altered. The introduction of asymmetric forcing reveals the limitations of axisymmetric studies in representing the fully three-dimensional monsoon. Advection of low subcloud moist static energy air from the midlatitude oceans is seen to strongly impact the subcloud moist static energy budget in the continental subtropics, limiting the poleward extent of the monsoon. The advection of low moist static energy air must be blocked by orography, or the source of low moist static energy air must be removed, in order to induce strong precipitation over the subtropical landmass. An equatorial SST gradient is needed to induce a cross-equatorial meridional monsoon circulation. The location of the maximum subcloud moist static energy remains a good indicator for the limit of the monsoon.

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