A mechanism is described that involves the south Asian monsoon as an active part of the tropospheric biennial oscillation (TBO) described in previous studies. This mechanism depends on coupled land––atmosphere––ocean interactions in the Indian sector, large-scale atmospheric east––west circulations in the Tropics, convective heating anomalies over Africa and the Pacific, and tropical––midlatitude interactions in the Northern Hemisphere. A key element for the monsoon role in the TBO is land––sea or meridional tropospheric temperature contrast, with area-averaged surface temperature anomalies over south Asia that are able to persist on a 1-yr timescale without the heat storage characteristics that contribute to this memory mechanism in the ocean. Results from a global coupled general circulation model show that soil moisture anomalies contribute to land-surface temperature anomalies (through latent heat flux anomalies) for only one season after the summer monsoon. A global atmospheric GCM in perpetual January mode is run with observed SSTs with specified convective heating anomalies to demonstrate that convective heating anomalies elsewhere in the Tropics associated with the coupled ocean––atmosphere biennial mechanism can contribute to altering seasonal midlatitude circulation. These changes in the midlatitude longwave pattern, forced by a combination of tropical convective heating anomalies over East Africa, Southeast Asia, and the western Pacific (in association with SST anomalies), are then able to maintain temperature anomalies over south Asia via advection through winter and spring to set up the land––sea meridional tropospheric temperature contrast for the subsequent monsoon. The role of the Indian Ocean, then, is to provide a moisture source and a low-amplitude coupled response component for meridional temperature contrast to help drive the south Asian monsoon. The role of the Pacific is to produce shifts in regionally coupled convection––SST anomalies. These regions are tied together and mutually interact via the large-scale east––west circulation in the atmosphere and contribute to altering midlatitude circulations as well. The coupled model results, and experiments with an atmospheric GCM that includes specified convective heating anomalies, suggest that the influence of south Asian snow cover in the monsoon is not a driving force by itself, but is symptomatic of the larger-scale shift in the midlatitude longwave pattern associated with tropical SST and convective heating anomalies.
Journal of Climate – American Meteorological Society
Published: Jul 3, 1996
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