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.
Nature Geoscience – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 6, 2017
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