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Systematic Errors in South Asian Monsoon Precipitation: Process-Based Diagnostics and Sensitivity to Entrainment in NCAR Models

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  • 1 International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • 2 International Pacific Research Center, and Department of Oceanography, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawaii
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Abstract

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 εmax 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 εmax leads to a reduced dry bias over South Asia through changes in the local circulation features. In CAM4, improved precipitation climatology due to increased εmax 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.

© 2020 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Franziska S. Hanf, franziska.hanf@uni-hamburg.de

Abstract

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 εmax 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 εmax leads to a reduced dry bias over South Asia through changes in the local circulation features. In CAM4, improved precipitation climatology due to increased εmax 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.

© 2020 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Franziska S. Hanf, franziska.hanf@uni-hamburg.de
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