Effects of rotation on the multiscale organization of convection in a global 2D cloud-resolving model

Qiu Yang, Andrew J. Majda, Noah D. Brenowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Atmospheric convection exhibits distinct spatiotemporal variability at different latitudes. A good understanding of the effects of rotation on the multiscale organization of convection from the mesoscale to synoptic scale to planetary scale is still lacking. Here cloud-resolving simulations with fixed surface fluxes and radiative cooling are implemented with constant rotation in a two-dimensional (2D) planetary domain to simulate multiscale organization of convection from the tropics to midlatitudes. All scenarios are divided into three rotation regimes (weak, order-one, and strong) to represent the idealized ITCZ region (0°–6°N), the Indian monsoon region (6°–20°N), and the midlatitude region (20°–45°N), respectively. In each rotation regime, a multiscale asymptotic model is derived systematically and used as a diagnostic framework for energy budget analysis. The results show that planetary-scale organization of convection only arises in the weak rotation regime, while synoptic-scale organization dominates (vanishes) in the order-one (strong) rotation regime. The depletion of planetary-scale organization of convection as the magnitude of rotation increases is attributed to the reduced planetary kinetic energy of zonal winds, mainly due to the decreasing acceleration effect by eddy zonal momentum transfer from mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) and the increasing deceleration effect by the Coriolis force. Similarly, the maintenance of synoptic-scale organization is related to the acceleration effect by MCSs. Such decreasing acceleration effects by MCSs on both planetary and synoptic scales are further attributed to less favorable conditions for convection provided by weaker background vertical shear of the zonal winds, resulting from the increasing magnitude of rotation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3669-3696
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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