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H. Annamalai

Abstract

With the recognition that equatorial Pacific precipitation anomalies are fundamental to global teleconnections during ENSO winters, the present research applies vertically integrated moist static energy (MSE) budget analysis to historical simulations of CMIP5 models. Process-based assessment is carried out to understand if the models capture the differing processes that account for regional precipitation anomalies along the equatorial Pacific and to isolate a few leading processes that account for the diversified precipitation response to similar SST forcing and vice versa. To assess SST biases in CMIP5, analysis is also carried out in AMIP5 solutions. Diagnostics reveal that models have limitations in representing the “sign” of MSE sources and sinks and, even if they do, compensating errors dominate the budget. The diverse response in precipitation depends on model parameterizations that determine anomalous net radiative flux divergence in the column, free troposphere moisture, and MSE export out of the column, although these processes are not independent. Diagnostics derived from AMIP5 solutions support the findings from CMIP5. The implication is that biases in representing any one of these processes are expected to imprint on others, acknowledging the tight connections among moisture, convection, and radiation. CMIP5 models have limitations in representing the basic states in SST and precipitation over the Niño-3.4 region, and the different convective regimes over the equatorial central and eastern Pacific regions with implications for ENSO. Study limitations are that MSE sources/sinks depend on parameterizations and their interactions, making it difficult to isolate one particular process for attribution. Budgets estimated from monthly anomalies do not capture contributions from high-frequency variability that are vital in closing the budgets.

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H. Annamalai

Abstract

During boreal summer, both the monsoon trough and the equatorial Indian Ocean (EIO) receive intense climatological precipitation. At various time scales, EIO sea surface temperature (SST) and/or precipitation variations interact with rainfall along the trough. For instance, during July–August in strong Indian Ocean dipole/zonal mode (IODZM) years, EIO experiences below-normal rainfall while regions along the monsoon trough receive above-normal rainfall. A lack of spatial coherency between SST and precipitation variations is noted in both regions. This paper posits the hypothesis that interaction between equatorial waves and moist physics is important in determining precipitation anomalies over these regions and in setting up the teleconnection. The hypothesis is tested using a linear baroclinic model (LBM). IODZM-related SST anomalies derived from multicentury integrations of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory coupled model (GFDL CM2.1) are used to force the LBM. Consistent with observations and CM2.1 composites of strong IODZM events, steady-state LBM solutions simulate zonally oriented negative (positive) precipitation anomalies over the EIO (along the monsoon trough). To identify the processes simulated in the LBM, moisture and moist static energy budgets are examined. Over both regions, analyses reveal that moisture advection contributes the most to the LBM budget, with advection of climatological moisture by the anomalous wind being the principal factor. Specifically, in response to cold SST anomalies in the EIO, moist stability due to surface fluxes increases, giving rise to below-normal rainfall. These conditions produce anomalous anticyclonic circulation as a Rossby wave response in the lower troposphere. Over the central-eastern EIO, this anomalous circulation advects climatological air of lower moisture content from the subtropics. In addition, advection of anomalous moisture by both climatological and anomalous wind results in anomalous dry conditions over the entire EIO. In contrast, anomalous divergent circulations that emanate from the EIO advect climatological air of higher moisture content from the equatorial region, amplifying rainfall along the monsoon trough. Consequently, the two regions are connected by a thermally driven overturning meridional circulation. Budget diagnostics performed with CM2.1 composites and the ECMWF interim reanalysis for observed IODZM events support the hypothesis. The results here imply that in coupled models, realistic representation of the basic state and details of the moist processes are necessary for successful monsoon prediction.

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V. Prasanna and H. Annamalai

Abstract

In the present research to identify moist processes that initiate and maintain extended monsoon breaks over South Asia moisture and moist static energy (MSE) budgets are performed on the newly available European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Interim reanalysis (ERA-Interim) and ensemble integrations from a coupled model. The hypothesis that interaction between moist physics and regional circulation and the role of cloud–radiation feedbacks are important is tested. Budget diagnostics show that dry advection is the principal moist process to initiate extended breaks. Its sources are (i) regional anticyclonic circulation anomalies forced by equatorial Indian Ocean negative rainfall anomalies advect low MSE air from north to central India, and (ii) rainfall enhancement over tropical west Pacific forces cyclonic circulation anomalies to its northwest as a Rossby wave response, and the northerlies at the poleward flank of this circulation advect air of low MSE content from north. The dominance of anomalous wind acting on climatological moisture gradient is confirmed from an examination of the moisture advection equation. A partition of various flux terms indicates that over central India, due to an increase in upwelling shortwave and longwave fluxes, radiative cooling increases during extended breaks. Here, enhanced rainfall over the equatorial Indian Ocean promotes anomalous radiative warming due to trapping of upwelling fluxes. The differential radiative heating anchors a local Hadley circulation with descent over central India. A direct implication of this research is that observational efforts are necessary to monitor the three-dimensional moisture distribution and cloud–radiation interaction over the monsoon region that would aid in better understanding, modeling, and predicting extended monsoon breaks.

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Prasanth A. Pillai and H. Annamalai

Abstract

Diagnostics from observations and multicentury integrations of a coupled model [Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) coupled model version 2.1 (CM2.1)] indicate that about 65% of the severe monsoons (rainfall > 1.5 standard deviations of its long-term mean) over South Asia are associated with sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies over the equatorial Pacific during the developing phase of ENSO, and another 30% are associated with SST variations over the tropical Indo-Pacific warm pool. The present research aims to identify the moist processes that initiate the dryness (wetness) and provide a precursor for rainfall anomalies over South Asia in spring during El Niño (La Niña). The hypothesis in this paper, based on CM2.1 composites, is that at low levels El Niño–forced equatorial easterly wind anomalies over the Indian Ocean, resulting from Ekman pumping, promote anticyclonic vorticity over the northern Indian Ocean, whose poleward flank advects dry air from northern latitudes to South Asia. This is tested by performing ensemble simulations with the atmospheric component of CM2.1 (AM2.1) and applying moisture and moist static energy budgets.

During El Niño, AM2.1 solutions capture the anticyclonic vorticity formation over the northern Indian Ocean 20–25 days earlier than organized negative rainfall anomalies over South Asia, and the advection of climatological air of lower moisture content by these anomalous winds initiates the dryness over South Asia from April onward. This long lead time embodied in this precursor signal can be exploited for predicting severe monsoons. During ENSO neutral conditions, the amplitude of regional SST anomalies during spring is insufficient to produce such a precursor signal.

The dominance of the term warrants monitoring the three-dimensional moisture distribution for better understanding, modeling, and predicting of severe monsoons.

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H. Annamalai and K. R. Sperber

Abstract

The boreal summer intraseasonal variability (BSISV) associated with the 30–50-day mode is represented by the coexistence of three components: poleward propagation of convection over the Indian and tropical west Pacific longitudes and eastward propagation along the equator. The hypothesis that the three components influence each other has been investigated using observed outgoing longwave radiation (OLR), NCEP–NCAR reanalysis, and solutions from an idealized linear model. The null hypothesis is that the three components are mutually independent. Cyclostationary EOF (CsEOF) analysis is applied on filtered OLR to extract the life cycle of the BSISV. The dominant CsEOF mode is significantly tied to the observed spatial rainfall pattern associated with the active/break phases over the Indian subcontinent. The components of the heating patterns from CsEOF analysis serve as prescribed forcings for the dry version of the linear model. This allows one to investigate the possible roles that the regional heat sources and sinks play in driving the large-scale monsoon circulation at various stages of the BSISV life cycle. To understand the interactive nature between convection and circulation, the moist version of the model is forced with intraseasonal SST anomalies.

The linear models reproduce the major features of the BSISV seen in the reanalysis. The linear model suggests three new findings: (i) The circulation anomalies that develop as a Rossby wave response to suppressed convection over the equatorial Indian Ocean associated with the previous break phase of the BSISV results in low-level convergence and tropospheric moisture enhancement over the equatorial western Indian Ocean and helps trigger the next active phase of the BSISV. (ii) The development of convection over the tropical west Pacific forces descent anomalies to the west. This, in conjunction with the weakened cross-equatorial flow due to suppressed convective anomalies over the equatorial Indian Ocean, reduces the tropospheric moisture over the Arabian Sea and promotes westerly wind anomalies that do not recurve over India. As a result the low-level cyclonic vorticity shifts from India to Southeast Asia and break conditions are initiated over India. (iii) The circulation anomalies forced by equatorial Indian Ocean convective anomalies significantly influence the active/break phases over the tropical west Pacific.

The model solutions support the hypothesis that the three components of the BSISV influence each other but do not imply that such an influence is responsible for the space–time evolution of the BSISV. Further, the applicability of the model results to the observed system is constrained by the assumption that linear interactions are sufficient to address the BSISV and that air–sea interaction and transient forcing are excluded.

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J. M. Slingo and H. Annamalai

Abstract

The year 1997 was characterized by the rapid development of an El Niño whose strength exceeded any previously observed this century. The basic understanding of the influence of El Niño on the Asian summer monsoon suggested that the monsoon should be substantially deficient, yet the all-India rainfall (AIR) was 2% above normal. The reasons for this have been investigated in terms of both the seasonal-mean, large-scale circulation anomalies and the subseasonal, regional weather events. By comparing the results with a similar analysis of two previous major El Niño events in 1982 and 1987, the common and disparate features of the response have been identified.

On the large scale, the basic hypothesis that, in El Niño years, the strength of the monsoon is influenced by a modulation of the Walker circulation, in which there is implied additional subsidence over the west Pacific and southeast Asia, is generally supported by the results. However, the results have shown that the modulation of the local Hadley circulation over the Maritime Continent may also play an important role. In both 1982 and 1997, the suppression of convection over the Maritime Continent and the equatorial Indian Ocean was marked. As a consequence, the tropical convergence zone (TCZ) to the north over the Indian subcontinent and extending out into the west Pacific was preferentially more active, particularly in July and August. The development of this local Hadley circulation over the Maritime Continent resulted in large-scale convergence over the monsoon trough region, aiding in the generation of vorticity in the lower troposphere and in the formation of intense tropical storms over the northwest Pacific and deep monsoon depressions over northern India. These tropical storms were a notable feature of the 1997 monsoon season.

The change in the local Hadley circulation is potentially driven by the suppression of convection over the Maritime Continent and equatorial Indian Ocean, which itself is caused by the modulation of the Walker circulation as a direct response to El Niño. The results of the present study suggest that it may be possible, depending on the strength of the ENSO forcing, for the circulation to enter different regimes. In 1987, and to a large extent in 1982 also, the main impact of El Niño was a modulation of the Walker circulation and consequently deficient monsoon rains over India. In 1997, however, when the El Niño was so intense, the circulation may have entered a regime in which the local Hadley circulation over the Indian Ocean and Maritime Continent was sufficiently modified by the substantial change in the Walker circulation that the TCZ was preferentially located to the north over the Asian summer monsoon domain and therefore resulted in above-average precipitation and subseasonal synoptic activity.

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Franziska S. Hanf and H. Annamalai

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In simulations of the boreal summer Asian monsoon, generations of climate models show a persistent climatological wet bias over the tropical western Indian Ocean and a dry bias over South Asia. Here, focusing on the monsoon developing stages (May–June), process-based diagnostics are first applied to a suite of NCAR models and reanalysis products. Two primary factors are identified for the initiation and maintenance of the wet bias over the northwestern Indian Ocean (NWIO; 5°–15°N, 52°–67°E): (i) excessive tropospheric moisture and (ii) restrained horizontal advection of the 1000–800-hPa levels cold–dry air couplet that originates offshore of Somalia. Second, guided by the diagnostics, we hypothesized that insufficient dilution of convective updrafts is one possible candidate for model bias and performed a series of enhanced entrainment sensitivity experiments with NCAR CAM4. Over the NWIO, the results suggest that globally increasing the maximum entrainment rate ε max leads to a drier free troposphere, arrests the vertical extension of clouds, and weakens moisture–convection and cloud–radiation feedbacks; each factor contributes to a reduced wet bias. Moreover, a higher ε max leads to a reduced dry bias over South Asia through changes in the local circulation features. In CAM4, improved precipitation climatology due to increased ε max suggests that insufficient dilution is one factor, but not the only one, that contributes to systematic errors. Rather, realistic representation of boundary layer processes in climate models arising out of local ocean–atmosphere interaction processes off Somalia’s coast deserves attention in reducing the NWIO wet bias.

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H. Annamalai, H. Okajima, and M. Watanabe

Abstract

Two atmospheric general circulation models (AGCMs), differing in numerics and physical parameterizations, are employed to test the hypothesis that El Niño–induced sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the tropical Indian Ocean impact considerably the Northern Hemisphere extratropical circulation anomalies during boreal winter [January–March +1 (JFM +1)] of El Niño years. The hypothesis grew out of recent findings that ocean dynamics influence SST variations over the southwest Indian Ocean (SWIO), and these in turn impact local precipitation. A set of ensemble simulations with the AGCMs was carried out to assess the combined and individual effects of tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean SST anomalies on the extratropical circulation. To elucidate the dynamics responsible for the teleconnection, solutions were sought from a linear version of one of the AGCMs.

Both AGCMs demonstrate that the observed precipitation anomalies over the SWIO are determined by local SST anomalies. Analysis of the circulation response shows that over the Pacific–North American (PNA) region, the 500-hPa height anomalies, forced by Indian Ocean SST anomalies, oppose and destructively interfere with those forced by tropical Pacific SST anomalies. The model results validated with reanalysis data show that compared to the runs where only the tropical Pacific SST anomalies are specified, the root-mean-square error of the height anomalies over the PNA region is significantly reduced in runs in which the SST anomalies in the Indian Ocean are prescribed in addition to those in the tropical Pacific. Among the ensemble members, both precipitation anomalies over the SWIO and the 500-hPa height over the PNA region show high potential predictability. The solutions from the linear model indicate that the Rossby wave packets involved in setting up the teleconnection between the SWIO and the PNA region have a propagation path that is quite different from the classical El Niño–PNA linkage.

The results of idealized experiments indicate that the Northern Hemisphere extratropical response to Indian Ocean SST anomalies is significant and the effect of this response needs to be considered in understanding the PNA pattern during El Niño years. The results presented herein suggest that the tropical Indian Ocean plays an active role in climate variability and that accurate observation of SST there is of urgent need.

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Markus Stowasser, H. Annamalai, and Jan Hafner

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Recent diagnostics with the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Climate Model, version 2.1 (GFDL CM2.1), coupled model’s twentieth-century simulations reveal that this particular model demonstrates skill in capturing the mean and variability associated with the South Asian summer monsoon precipitation. Motivated by this, the authors examine the future projections of the mean monsoon and synoptic systems in this model’s simulations in which quadrupling of CO2 concentrations are imposed.

In a warmer climate, despite a weakened cross-equatorial flow, the time-mean precipitation over peninsular parts of India increases by about 10%–15%. This paradox is interpreted as follows: the increased precipitation over the equatorial western Pacific forces an anomalous descending circulation over the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean, the two regions being connected by an overturning mass circulation. The spatially well-organized anomalous precipitation over the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean forces twin anticyclones as a Rossby wave response in the lower troposphere. The southern component of the anticyclone opposes and weakens the climatological cross-equatorial monsoon flow. The patch of easterly anomalies centered in the southern Arabian Sea is expected to deepen the thermocline north of the equator. Both these factors limit the coastal upwelling along Somalia, resulting in local sea surface warming and eventually leading to a local maximum in evaporation over the southern Arabian Sea. It is shown that changes in SST are predominantly responsible for the increase in evaporation over the southern Arabian Sea. The diagnostics suggest that in addition to the increased CO2-induced rise in temperature, evaporation, and atmospheric moisture, local circulation changes in the monsoon region further increase SST, evaporation, and atmospheric moisture, leading to increased rainfall over peninsular parts of India. This result implies that accurate observation of SST and surface fluxes over the Indian Ocean is of urgent need to understand and monitor the response of the monsoon in a warming climate.

To understand the regional features of the rainfall changes, the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) Regional Climate Model (RegCM), with three different resolution settings (0.5° × 0.5°, 0.75° × 0.75°, and 1.0° × 1.0°), was integrated for 20 yr, with lateral and lower boundary conditions taken from the GFDL model. The RegCM solutions confirm the major results obtained from the GFDL model but also capture the orographic nature of monsoon precipitation and regional circulation changes more realistically. The hypothesis that in a warmer climate, an increase in troposphere moisture content favors more intense monsoon depressions is tested. The GFDL model does not reveal any changes, but solutions from the RegCM suggest a statistically significant increase in the number of storms that have wind speeds of 15–20 m s−1 or greater, depending on the resolution employed. Based on these regional model solutions a possible implication is that in a CO2-richer climate an increase in the number of flood days over central India can be expected. The model results obtained here, though plausible, need to be taken with caution since even in this “best” model systematic errors still exist in simulating some aspects of the tropical and monsoon climates.

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H. Annamalai, Shinichiro Kida, and Jan Hafner

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Diagnostics performed with twentieth-century (1861–2000) ensemble integrations of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Climate Model, version 2.1 (CM2.1) suggest that, during the developing phase, El Niño events that co-occur with the Indian Ocean Dipole Zonal Mode (IODZM; class 1) are stronger than those without (class 2). Also, during class 1 events coherent sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies develop in the Indonesian seas that closely follow the life cycle of IODZM. This study investigates the effect of these regional SST anomalies (equatorial Indian Ocean and Indonesian seas) on the amplitude of the developing El Niño.

An examination of class 1 minus class 2 composites suggests two conditions that could lead to a strong El Niño in class 1 events: (i) during January, ocean–atmosphere conditions internal to the equatorial Pacific are favorable for the development of a stronger El Niño and (ii) during May–June, coinciding with the development of regional SST anomalies, an abrupt increase in westerly wind anomalies is noticeable over the equatorial western Pacific with a subsequent increase in thermocline and SST anomalies over the eastern equatorial Pacific. This paper posits the hypothesis that, under favorable conditions in the equatorial Pacific, regional SST anomalies may enable the development of a stronger El Niño.

Owing to a wealth of feedbacks in CM2.1, solutions from a linear atmosphere model forced with May–June anomalous precipitation and anomalous SST from selected areas over the equatorial Indo-Pacific are examined. Consistent with our earlier study, the net Kelvin wave response to contrasting tropical Indian Ocean heating anomalies cancels over the equatorial western Pacific. In contrast, Indonesian seas SST anomalies account for about 60%–80% of the westerly wind anomalies over the equatorial western Pacific and also induce anomalous precipitation over the equatorial central Pacific. It is argued that the feedback between the precipitation and circulation anomalies results in an abrupt increase in zonal wind anomalies over the equatorial western Pacific.

Encouraged by these results, the authors further examined the processes that cause cold SST anomalies over the Indonesian seas using an ocean model. Sensitivity experiments suggest that local wind anomalies, through stronger surface heat loss and evaporation, and subsurface upwelling are the primary causes. The present results imply that in coupled models, a proper representation of regional air–sea interactions over the equatorial Indo-Pacific warm pool may be important to understand and predict the amplitude of El Niño.

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