The Mechanical Impact of the Tibetan Plateau on the Seasonal Evolution of the South Asian Monsoon
The impact of the Tibetan Plateau on the South Asian monsoon is examined using a hierarchy of atmospheric general circulation models. During the premonsoon season and monsoon onset (April–June), when westerly winds over the Southern Tibetan Plateau are still strong, the Tibetan Plateau triggers early monsoon rainfall downstream, particularly over the Bay of Bengal and South China. The downstream moist convection is accompanied by strong monsoonal low-level winds. In experiments where the Tibetan Plateau is removed, monsoon onset occurs about a month later, but the monsoon circulation becomes progressively stronger and reaches comparable strength during the mature phase. During the mature and decaying phase of monsoon (July–September), when westerly winds over the Southern Tibetan Plateau almost disappear, monsoon circulation strength is not much affected by the presence of the Tibetan Plateau. A dry dynamical core with east–west-oriented narrow mountains in the subtropics consistently simulates downstream convergence with background zonal westerlies over the mountain. In a moist atmosphere, the mechanically driven downstream convergence is expected to be associated with significant moisture convergence. The authors speculate that the mechanically driven downstream convergence in the presence of the Tibetan Plateau is responsible for zonally asymmetric monsoon onset, particularly over the Bay of Bengal and South China.
Additional Information© 2012 American Meteorological Society. Manuscript received 20 May 2011, in final form 3 October 2011. HSP thanks In-Sik Kang and Benjamin Lintner for helpful comments. Conversation with Tapio Schneider was particularly helpful. The simulations were carried out on Caltech's Geological and Planetary Sciences Dell cluster. This work was partly funded by NSF Grant EAR-0909195.
Published - Park2012p17912J_Climate.pdf