Scale interactions on diurnal toseasonal timescales and their relevanceto model systematic errors

J. Slingo, P. Inness, R. Neale, S. Woolnough, G. Yang


Examples of current research into systematic errors in climate models are used to demonstrate the importance of
scale interactions on diurnal,intraseasonal and seasonal timescales for the mean and variability of the tropical climate system. It has enabled some conclusions to be drawn about possible processes that may need to be
represented, and some recommendations to be made regarding model improvements. It has been shown that the Maritime Continent heat source is a major driver of the global circulation but yet is poorly represented in GCMs. A new climatology of the diurnal cycle has been used to provide compelling evidence of important land-sea breeze and gravity wave effects, which may play a crucial role in the heat and moisture budget of this key region for the tropical and global circulation. The role of the diurnal cycle has also been emphasized for intraseasonal variability associated with the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO). It is suggested that the diurnal cycle in Sea
Surface Temperature (SST) during the suppressed phase of the MJO leads to a triggering of cumulus congestus
clouds, which serve to moisten the free troposphere and hence precondition the atmosphere for the next active
phase. It has been further shown that coupling between the ocean and atmosphere on intraseasonal timescales
leads to a more realistic simulation of the MJO. These results stress the need for models to be able to simulate firstly, the observed tri-modal distribution of convection, and secondly, the coupling between the ocean and atmosphere on diurnal to intraseasonal timescales. It is argued, however, that the current representation of the ocean mixed layer in coupled models is not adequate to represent the complex structure of the observed mixed layer, in particular the formation of salinity barrier layers which can potentially provide much stronger local coupling between the atmosphere and ocean on diurnal to intraseasonal timescales.


diurnal cycle;MJO;convection;ocean-atmosphere interaction

Full Text:



We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it (Read more).

Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X