AbstractAs the ITCZ moves off the equator on an aquaplanet, the Hadley circulation transitions from an equinoctial regime with two near-symmetric, significantly eddy-driven cells to a monsoon-like regime with a strong, thermally direct cross-equatorial cell, intense low-latitude precipitation, and a weak summer hemisphere cell. Dynamical feedbacks appear to accelerate the transition. This study investigates the relevance of this behavior to monsoon onset by using primitive equation model simulations ranging from aquaplanets to more realistic configurations with Earth’s continents and topography. A change in the relationship between ITCZ latitude and overturning strength is identified once the ITCZ moves poleward of approximately 7°. Monsoon onset is associated with off-equatorial ascent in regions of nonnegligible planetary vorticity, and this is found to generate a vortex stretching tendency that reduces upper-level absolute vorticity. In an aquaplanet, this causes a transition to the cross-equatorial, thermally direct regime, intensifying the overturning circulation. Analysis of the zonal momentum budget suggests that a stationary wave, driven by topography and land–sea contrast, can trigger a similar transition in the more realistic model configuration, with the wave extending the ascent region of the Southern Hemisphere Hadley cell northward, and enhanced overturning then developing to the south. These two elements of the circulation resemble the East and South Asian monsoons.
Journal of Climate – American Meteorological Society
Published: Apr 24, 2018
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