Transition from suppressed to active convection modulated by a weak-temperature gradient derived large-scale circulation

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Daleu, C. L. ; Woolnough, S. J. ; Plant, R.S. (2015)
  • Publisher: American Meteorological Society
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1175/JAS-D-14-0041.1
  • Subject:
    arxiv: Physics::Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics

Numerical simulations are performed to assess the influence of the large-scale circulation on the transition from suppressed to active convection. As a model tool, we used a coupled-column model. It consists of two cloud-resolving models which are fully coupled via a large-scale circulation which is derived from the requirement that the instantaneous domain-mean potential temperature profiles of the two columns remain close to each other. This is known as the weak-temperature gradient approach. \ud The simulations of the transition are initialized from coupled-column simulations over non-uniform surface forcing and the transition is forced within the dry column by changing the local and/or remote surface forcings to uniform surface forcing across the columns. As the strength of the circulation is reduced to zero, moisture is recharged into the dry column and a transition to active convection occurs once the column is sufficiently moistened to sustain deep convection. Direct effects of changing surface forcing occur over the first few days only. Afterward, it is the evolution of the large-scale circulation which systematically modulates the transition. Its contributions are approximately equally divided between the heating and moistening effects. A transition time is defined to summarize the evolution from suppressed to active convection. It is the time when the rain rate within the dry column is halfway to the mean value obtained at equilibrium over uniform surface forcing. The transition time is around twice as long for a transition that is forced remotely compared to a transition that is forced locally. Simulations in which both local and remote surface forcings are changed produce intermediate transition times.
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