J. Climate, 12, 1049-1069

On the Role of Longwave Radiation and Boundary Layer Thermodynamics in Forcing Tropical Winds

Xiouhua FU and Bin WANG
Department of Meteorology, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology
University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii


This paper reveals major deficiencies of the existing intermediate climate models for tropical surface winds and elaborates the important roles of cloud-longwave radiational forcing and boundary layer thermodynamics in driving the tropical surface winds.

The heat sink associated with the cloud-longwave radiation is demonstrated as an important driving force for boreal summer northeast trades and Indian Ocean southwest monsoons. Over the western North Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, low cloudiness and high sea surface temperature (SST) enhance longwave radiation cooling, strengthening subtropical high and associated trades. On the other hand, in the regions of heavy rainfall over South Asia, reduced cloud-longwave radiation cooling enhances monsoon trough and associated southwest monsoons. The boundary layer thermodynamic processes, primarily both the surface heat fluxes and the vertical temperature advection, are shown to be critical for realistic simulation of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), the equatorial surface winds and associated divergence field.

To successfully simulate the tropical surface winds, it is essential for intermediate models to adequately describe the feedback of the boundary-layer frictional convergence to convective heat source, and their interactions. The capability and limitations of the intermediate tropical climate model in reproducing both climatology and interannual variations are discussed.

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