Rediscovery of the doldrums in storm-resolving simulations over the tropical Atlantic

Rediscovery of the doldrums in storm-resolving simulations over the tropical Atlantic The doldrums — a zone of calm and variable winds in the deep tropics between the trades — were of key importance to nineteenth century maritime travel. As a result, the region was a focus in atmospheric science at that time. However, as sailing ships were replaced by steamboats, scientific interest shifted to the heavy precipitating storms within the doldrums: the deep convective systems of the intertropical convergence zone. Now, in storm-system-resolving simulations over a period of two months that cover a large part of the tropical Atlantic, the doldrums are one of the most prominent features. The doldrums are substantially less pronounced in coarser-resolution simulations that use a parameterization for convection, despite their large-scale extent. We conclude that explicitly representing the storm scale dynamics and their coupling to the surface wind on the storm-system scales helps to maintain the systems of winds that define the doldrums. We suggest that the lack of these wind systems could explain the persistent tropical precipitation biases in climate models. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Nature Geoscience Springer Journals

Rediscovery of the doldrums in storm-resolving simulations over the tropical Atlantic

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by The Author(s)
Subject
Earth Sciences; Earth Sciences, general; Geology; Geochemistry; Geophysics/Geodesy; Earth System Sciences
ISSN
1752-0894
eISSN
1752-0908
D.O.I.
10.1038/s41561-017-0005-4
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The doldrums — a zone of calm and variable winds in the deep tropics between the trades — were of key importance to nineteenth century maritime travel. As a result, the region was a focus in atmospheric science at that time. However, as sailing ships were replaced by steamboats, scientific interest shifted to the heavy precipitating storms within the doldrums: the deep convective systems of the intertropical convergence zone. Now, in storm-system-resolving simulations over a period of two months that cover a large part of the tropical Atlantic, the doldrums are one of the most prominent features. The doldrums are substantially less pronounced in coarser-resolution simulations that use a parameterization for convection, despite their large-scale extent. We conclude that explicitly representing the storm scale dynamics and their coupling to the surface wind on the storm-system scales helps to maintain the systems of winds that define the doldrums. We suggest that the lack of these wind systems could explain the persistent tropical precipitation biases in climate models.

Journal

Nature GeoscienceSpringer Journals

Published: Nov 6, 2017

References

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