Slow preconditioning for the abrupt convective jump over the Northwest Pacific during summer

TitleSlow preconditioning for the abrupt convective jump over the Northwest Pacific during summer
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsZhou W.Y, Xie SP, Zhou ZQ
JournalJournal of Climate
Volume29
Pagination8103-8113
Date Published2016/11
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0894-8755
Accession NumberWOS:000386206100010
Keywordsmonsoon; Onset; parameterization; sea; system
Abstract

The rapid intensification of convective activity in mid-July over the northwest Pacific marks the final stage of the Asian summer monsoon, accompanied by major shifts in regional rainfall and circulation patterns. An entraining plume model is used to investigate the physical processes underlying the abrupt convective jump. Despite little change in sea surface temperature (SST), gradual lower-troposphere mixing leads to a threshold transition in the model as follows. Before mid-July, although SST is already high (29 degrees C), the convective plume is inhibited by the capping inversion above the trade cumulus boundary layer. As the lower troposphere is gradually mixed, the boundary layer top rises with reduced atmospheric stability and increased humidity in the lower troposphere. These factors weaken the inhibition effect of the inversion on the entraining plume. As soon as the plume is able to overcome the inversion barrier, it can rise all the way to the upper troposphere. This marks an abrupt threshold transition to a deep convection regime with heavy rainfall. The convective available potential energy (CAPE) of the entraining plume is found to be a better indicator of the rainfall intensity compared to the conventional undiluted CAPE. The latter fails to capture the onset by neglecting interactions between convective clouds and the environment. Current general circulation models (GCMs) fail to capture the abrupt convective jump and instead simulate a rather smooth seasonal evolution of rainfall. Compared to observations, GCMs simulate a higher trade cumulus top with excessive mixing in the lower troposphere. Convection is no longer inhibited by the inversion barrier, and rainfall simply follows the smooth variation of SST.

DOI10.1175/jcli-d-16-0342.1
Student Publication: 
No