A local-to-large scale view of Maritime Continent rainfall: control by ENSO, MJO and equatorial waves

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  • 1 Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  • | 2 Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, School of Environmental Sciences and School of Mathematics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
  • | 3 National Centre for Atmospheric Science, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
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Abstract

The canonical view of the Maritime Continent (MC) diurnal cycle is deep convection occurring over land during the afternoon and evening, tending to propagate offshore overnight. However, there is considerable day-to-day variability in the convection, and the mechanism of the offshore propagation is not well understood. We test the hypothesis that large-scale drivers such as ENSO, the MJO and equatorial waves, through their modification of the local circulation, can modify the direction or strength of the propagation, or prevent the deep convection from triggering in the first place. Taking a local-to-large scale approach we use in situ observations, satellite data and reanalyses for five MC coastal regions, and show that the occurrence of the diurnal convection and its offshore propagation is closely tied to coastal wind regimes we define using the k-means cluster algorithm. Strong prevailing onshore winds are associated with a suppressed diurnal cycle of precipitation; while prevailing offshore winds are associated with an active diurnal cycle, offshore propagation of convection and a greater risk of extreme rainfall. ENSO, the MJO, equatorial Rossby waves and westward mixed Rossby-gravity waves have varying levels of control over which coastal wind regime occurs, and therefore on precipitation, depending on the MC coastline in question. The large-scale drivers associated with dry and wet regimes are summarised for each location as a reference for forecasters.

Corresponding author: Simon C. Peatman, Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK, earspe@leeds.ac.uk

Abstract

The canonical view of the Maritime Continent (MC) diurnal cycle is deep convection occurring over land during the afternoon and evening, tending to propagate offshore overnight. However, there is considerable day-to-day variability in the convection, and the mechanism of the offshore propagation is not well understood. We test the hypothesis that large-scale drivers such as ENSO, the MJO and equatorial waves, through their modification of the local circulation, can modify the direction or strength of the propagation, or prevent the deep convection from triggering in the first place. Taking a local-to-large scale approach we use in situ observations, satellite data and reanalyses for five MC coastal regions, and show that the occurrence of the diurnal convection and its offshore propagation is closely tied to coastal wind regimes we define using the k-means cluster algorithm. Strong prevailing onshore winds are associated with a suppressed diurnal cycle of precipitation; while prevailing offshore winds are associated with an active diurnal cycle, offshore propagation of convection and a greater risk of extreme rainfall. ENSO, the MJO, equatorial Rossby waves and westward mixed Rossby-gravity waves have varying levels of control over which coastal wind regime occurs, and therefore on precipitation, depending on the MC coastline in question. The large-scale drivers associated with dry and wet regimes are summarised for each location as a reference for forecasters.

Corresponding author: Simon C. Peatman, Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK, earspe@leeds.ac.uk
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