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The relationship between the North American summer monsoon, the Rocky Mountains and the North Pacific subtropical anticyclone in HadAM3

Shaffrey, L. C., Hoskins, B. J. and Lu, R. (2002) The relationship between the North American summer monsoon, the Rocky Mountains and the North Pacific subtropical anticyclone in HadAM3. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 128 (586). pp. 2607-2622. ISSN 1477-870X

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1256/qj.01.145

Abstract/Summary

In this study the relationship between the North American monsoon, the Californian sea surface temperature (SST) cold pool, the Rocky Mountains and the North Pacific subtropical anticyclone is investigated using the Hadley Centre's atmospheric climate model, HadAM3. In 1996 Hoskins hypothesized that heating in the North American monsoon might be important for the maintenance of the summertime North Pacific subtropical anticyclone, since the monsoon heating may induce descent to the north-west of the monsoon in the descending eastern flank of the subtropical anticyclone. This descent is further enhanced by radiative cooling and is associated with equatorward surface winds parallel to the western coast of North America. These equatorward winds induce oceanic upwelling of cold water and contribute to the formation of the Californian SST cold pool, which may feed back on the anticyclone by further suppressing convection and inducing descent. More recently, Rodwell and Hoskins also investigated the global summer monsoon–subtropical anticyclone relationship. They examined the role that mountains play in impeding the progress of the low-level mid-latitude westerlies, either deflecting the westerlies northwards where they ascend along the sloping mid-latitude isentropes or deflecting them southwards forcing them to descend along the isentropes. In particular, the introduction of the Rockies into a primitive-equation model adiabatically induces descent in the eastern descending flank of the North Pacific subtropical anticyclone. These hypothesized mechanisms have been investigated using HadAM3, focusing on the possible suppression of convection by the Californian SST cold pool, the response of the North Pacific subtropical anticyclone to the strength of the North American monsoon and the ‘blocking’ of the mid-latitude westerlies by the Rocky Mountains. The role of the Rockies is examined by integrating the model with modified orography for the Rocky Mountains. Changing the height of the Rockies alters the circulation in a way consistent with the mechanism outlined above. Higher Rocky mountains force the westerlies southwards, inducing descent in the eastern flank of the subtropical anticyclone as the air descends along the sloping isentropes. The relationship between the North American monsoon and the North Pacific subtropical anticyclone is investigated by suppressing the monsoon in HadAM3. The suppression of the monsoon is accomplished by increasing the surface albedo over Mexico, which induces anomalous ascent on the eastward flank of the subtropical anticyclone and anomalous polewards surface winds along the western coast of the North American continent, also providing support for the above hypothesis. The removal of the Californian SST cold pool, however, has a statistically insignificant effect on the model, suggesting that in this model the feedback of the SST cold pool on the eastern flank of the anticyclone is weak.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > Department of Meteorology
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > NCAS
ID Code:26392
Uncontrolled Keywords:Isentropic flow; Monsoonal heating; Rossby waves
Publisher:Royal Meteorological Society

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