Process-oriented diagnosis of East Pacific warm pool intraseasonal variability

TitleProcess-oriented diagnosis of East Pacific warm pool intraseasonal variability
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsMaloney ED, Jiang X.A, Xie SP, Benedict J.J
JournalJournal of Climate
Date Published2014/08
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0894-8755
Accession NumberWOS:000340310800012
Keywordsapproximation; atmosphere model; boreal summer; cloud-radiation; convection feedbacks; madden-julian oscillation; moist static energy; northward propagation; simple-model; temperature-gradient; tropical circulation

June-October east Pacific warm pool intraseasonal variability (ISV) is assessed in eight atmospheric general circulation simulations. Complex empirical orthogonal function analysis is used to document the leading mode of 30-90-day precipitation variability in the models and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission observations. The models exhibit a large spread in amplitude of the leading mode about the observed amplitude. Little relationship is demonstrated between the amplitude of the leading mode and the ability of models to simulate observed north-northeastward propagation. Several process-oriented diagnostics are explored that attempt to distinguish why some models produce superior ISV. A diagnostic based on the difference in 500-850-hPa averaged relative humidity between the top 5% and the bottom 10% of precipitation events exhibits a significant correlation with leading mode amplitude. Diagnostics based on the vertically integrated moist entropy budget also demonstrate success at discriminating models with strong and weak variability. In particular, the vertical component of gross moist stability exhibits a correlation with amplitude of -0.9, suggesting that models in which convection and associated divergent circulations are less efficient at discharging moisture from the column are better able to sustain strong ISV. Several other diagnostics are tested that show no significant relationship with leading mode amplitude, including the warm pool mean surface zonal wind, the strength of surface flux feedbacks, and 500-850-hPa averaged relative humidity for the top 1% of rainfall events. Vertical zonal wind shear and 850-hPa zonal wind do not appear to be good predictors of model success at simulating the observed northward propagation pattern.

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