Self-Aggregation of Convective Clouds With Interactive Sea Surface Temperature

S. Shamekh, C. Muller, J. P. Duvel, F. D'Andrea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates the feedbacks between an interactive sea surface temperature (SST) and the self-aggregation of deep convective clouds, using a cloud-resolving model in nonrotating radiative-convective equilibrium. The ocean is modeled as one layer slab with a temporally fixed mean but spatially varying temperature. We find that the interactive SST decelerates the aggregation and that the deceleration is larger with a shallower slab, consistent with earlier studies. The surface temperature anomaly in dry regions is positive at first, thus opposing the diverging shallow circulation known to favor self-aggregation, consistent with the slower aggregation. But surprisingly, the driest columns then have a negative SST anomaly, thus strengthening the diverging shallow circulation and favoring aggregation. This diverging circulation out of dry regions is found to be well correlated with the aggregation speed. It can be linked to a positive surface pressure anomaly (PSFC), itself the consequence of SST anomalies and boundary layer radiative cooling. The latter cools and dries the boundary layer, thus increasing PSFC anomalies through virtual effects and hydrostasy. Sensitivity experiments confirm the key role played by boundary layer radiative cooling in determining PSFC anomalies in dry regions, and thus the shallow diverging circulation and the aggregation speed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020MS002164
JournalJournal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • cloud-resloving simulation
  • convection
  • sea surface temperature
  • self-aggregation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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