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The role of the permanent wilting point in controlling the spatial distribution of precipitation

MPG-Autoren
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Hohenegger,  Cathy
Hans Ertel Research Group Clouds and Convection, The Atmosphere in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Stevens,  Bjorn
Director’s Research Group AES, The Atmosphere in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Zitation

Hohenegger, C., & Stevens, B. (2018). The role of the permanent wilting point in controlling the spatial distribution of precipitation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115, 5692-5697. doi:10.1073/pnas.1718842115.


Zitierlink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-4956-D
Zusammenfassung
Convection-permitting simulations on an idealized land planet are performed to understand whether soil moisture acts to support or impede the organization of convection. Initially, shallow circulations driven by differential radiative cooling induce a self-aggregation of the convection into a single band, as has become familiar from simulations over idealized sea surfaces. With time, however, the drying of the nonprecipitating region induces a reversal of the shallow circulation, drawing the flow at low levels from the precipitating to the nonprecipitating region. This causes the precipitating convection to move over the dry soils and reverses the polarity of the circulation. The precipitation replenishes these soils with moisture at the expense of the formerly wet soils which dry, until the process repeats itself. On longer timescales, this acts to homogenize the precipitation field. By analyzing the strength of the shallow circulations, the surface budget with its effects on the boundary layer properties, and the shape of the soil moisture resistance function, we demonstrate that the soil has to dry out significantly, for the here-tested resistance formulations below 15% of its water availability, to be able to alter the precipitation distribution. We expect such a process to broaden the distribution of precipitation over tropical land. This expectation is supported by observations which show that in drier years the monsoon rains move farther inland over Africa.