Spontaneous Aggregation of Convective Storms

Caroline Muller, Da Yang, George Craig, Timothy Cronin, Benjamin Fildier, Jan O. Haerter, Cathy Hohenegger, Brian Mapes, David Randall, Sara Shamekh, Steven C. Sherwood

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Idealized simulations of the tropical atmosphere have predicted that clouds can spontaneously clump together in space, despite perfectly homogeneous settings. This phenomenon has been called self-aggregation, and it results in a state where a moist cloudy region with intense deep convectivestorms is surrounded by extremely dry subsiding air devoid of deep clouds. We review here the main findings from theoretical work and idealized models of this phenomenon, highlighting the physical processes believed to play a key role in convective self-aggregation. We also review the growing literature on the importance and implications of this phenomenon for the tropical atmosphere, notably, for the hydrological cycle and for precipitation extremes, in our current and in a warming climate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-157
Number of pages25
JournalAnnual Review of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - 2021


  • climate sensitivity
  • convective organization
  • deep convection
  • Madden Julian oscillation
  • precipitation extremes
  • radiative convective equilibrium
  • self-aggregation
  • tropical cyclones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics


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