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The role of moisture in summertime low-level jet formation and associated rainfall over the East Asian monsoon region


Chen ,  Ruidan
MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;


Tomassini,  Lorenzo
Hans Ertel Research Group Clouds and Convection, The Atmosphere in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society, Bundesstraße 53, 20146 Hamburg, DE,;

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Chen, R., & Tomassini, L. (2015). The role of moisture in summertime low-level jet formation and associated rainfall over the East Asian monsoon region. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 72, 3871-3890. doi:10.1175/JAS-D-15-0064.1.

The southwesterly low-level jet (LLJ) located to the east of the Tibetan Plateau in southern China plays an important role in summertime convective initiation over north China. This study adopts a novel perspective and uses hindcast experiments in order to investigate the role of moisture in LLJ and associated heavy rainfall formation, employing a global atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM). In the sensitivity experiments, an increase of humidity in the inflow region leads to a weaker LLJ but stronger diurnal wind oscillations. The weaker LLJ is due to a decreased lower-tropospheric east–west pressure gradient resulting from a low pressure anomaly over southeastern China induced by deep convection and related condensational heating. On the other hand, the stronger diurnal variation of the LLJ originates from stronger day-and-night thermal differences over the sloping terrain, which is related to drier conditions over the mountain range. Moreover, the increased humidity and decreased LLJ counteract one another to impact precipitation in the outflow region. The change of precipitation is mainly determined by the altered moisture flux divergence. If the increase in humidity dominates, then the moisture flux convergence is enhanced and favors more precipitation over north China. Otherwise, if the decreased LLJ dominates, then the moisture flux convergence is reduced, which constrains precipitation. It is highlighted that the moist diabatic and dynamic processes are intimately coupled, and that a correct simulation of moisture flux convergence is vital for AGCMs to reproduce the LLJ-related precipitation, particularly the nocturnal precipitation peak, which is a deficiency in many current models.