The atmospheric circulation during the South Asian summer monsoon season is analyzed in moist isentropic coordinates. The horizontal mass transport is sorted in terms of its equivalent potential temperature and is separated into the upper- and lower-tropospheric contributions. This technique makes it possible to trace the transport of air parcels over long distances, identify regions of convective motion in the tropics, and assess the impacts of diabatic processes. The goal here is to assess the thermodynamic characteristics of the atmospheric overturning associated with the South Asian monsoon and to connect this thermodynamic structure to horizontal transport. The monsoon is associated with a low-level inflow of warm and moist air, compensated by an upper-tropospheric outflow at high potential temperature. The South Asian monsoon differs, however, from other monsoonal systems in two important ways. First, the ascending air exhibits an unusually high equivalent potential temperature, which results in global lifting of the tropopause during the boreal summer. Second, on a seasonal basis the main monsoon regions appear to be shielded from dry air intrusion from the extratropical regions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science