A simple multicloud parameterization for convectively coupled tropical waves. Part II: Nonlinear simulations

Boualem Khouider, Andrew J. Majda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Observations in the Tropics point to the important role of three cloud types, congestus, stratiform, and deep convective clouds, besides ubiquitous shallow boundary layer clouds for both the climatology and large-scale organized anomalies such as convectively coupled Kelvin waves, two-day waves, and the Madden-Julian oscillation. Recently, the authors have developed a systematic model convective parameterization highlighting the dynamic role of the three cloud types through two baroclinic modes of vertical structure: a deep convective heating mode and a second mode with lower troposphere heating and cooling corresponding respectively to congestus and stratiform clouds. The model includes both a systematic moisture equation where the lower troposphere moisture increases through detrainment of shallow cumulus clouds, evaporation of stratiform rain, and moisture convergence and decreases through deep convective precipitation and also a nonlinear switch that favors either deep or congestus convection depending on whether the lower middle troposphere is moist or dry. Here these model convective parameterizations are applied to a 40 000-km periodic equatorial ring without rotation, with a background sea surface temperature (SST) gradient and realistic radiative cooling mimicking a tropical warm pool. Both the emerging "Walker cell" climatology and the convectively coupled wave fluctuations are analyzed here while various parameters in the model are varied. The model exhibits weak congestus moisture coupled waves outside the warm pool in a turbulent bath that intermittently amplify in the warm pool generating convectively coupled moist gravity wave trains propagating at speeds ranging from 15 to 20 m s-1 over the warm pool, while retaining a classical Walker cell in the mean climatology. The envelope of the deep convective events in these convectively coupled wave trains often exhibits large-scale organization with a slower propagation speed of 3-5 m s-1 over the warm pool and adjacent region. Occasional much rarer intermittent deep convection also occurs outside the warm pool. The realistic parameter regimes in the multicloud model are identified as those with linearized growth rates for large scale instabilities roughly in the range of 0.5 K day-1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-400
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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