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A moist conceptual model for the boundary layer structure and radiatively driven shallow circulations in the trades

MPS-Authors
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Naumann,  Ann Kristin
Hans Ertel Research Group Clouds and Convection, The Atmosphere in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society, Bundesstraße 53, 20146 Hamburg, DE,;
Drivers of tropical circulation (CLICCS JWG), 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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Hohenegger,  Cathy
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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Fulltext (public)

jas-d-18-0226.1.pdf
(Publisher version), 2MB

Supplementary Material (public)

Naumann_et_al_2019_JAS.zip
(Supplementary material), 942KB

Citation

Naumann, A. K., Stevens, B., & Hohenegger, C. (2019). A moist conceptual model for the boundary layer structure and radiatively driven shallow circulations in the trades. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 76, 1289-1306. doi:10.1175/JAS-D-18-0226.1.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-4863-D
Abstract
A conceptual model is developed to analyse how radiative cooling and the effect of moisture and shallow convection modify the boundary layer (BL) structure and the strength of mesoscale shallow circulations. The moist BL allows for a convective mass flux to modify the BL mass balance, which enhances inversion entrainment compared to a dry case and acts as a moisture valve to the BL. The convective mass flux is found to be insensitive to the applied radiative cooling and in the absence of heterogeneities cloud-free conditions exist only for unusual large-scale forcings. The model is able to explain the moderate range of BL heights and humidities observed in the trades. In a two-column setup, differential radiative BL cooling causes a pressure difference, which drives a BL flow from the cold and moist to the warm and dry column and couples them dynamically. The small inversion buoyancy jump of the moist BL yields a stronger BL flow of 4 m/s instead of 1 m/s in the dry case. For typical conditions of the subsidence-dominated tropical oceans, a radiatively driven shallow circulation is stronger than one driven by sea surface temperature (SST) gradients. While the strength of the SST driven circulation decreases with decreasing SST difference, the radiatively driven circulation is insensitive to the radiative BL cooling difference. In both cases, convection is suppressed in the descending branch of the shallow circulation and enhanced in the ascending branch, resembling patterns of organised shallow convection.