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Published April 2014 | Published
Journal Article Open

Orographic Effects of the Tibetan Plateau on the East Asian Summer Monsoon: An Energetic Perspective


This paper investigates the dynamical processes through which the Tibetan Plateau (TP) influences the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) within the framework of the moist static energy (MSE) budget, using both observations and atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) simulations. The focus is on the most prominent feature of the EASM, the so-called meiyu–baiu (MB), which is characterized by a well-defined, southwest–northeast elongated quasi-stationary rainfall band, spanning from eastern China to Japan and into the northwestern Pacific Ocean between mid-June and mid-July. Observational analyses of the MSE budget of the MB front indicate that horizontal advection of moist enthalpy, and primarily of dry enthalpy, sustains the front in a region of otherwise negative net energy input into the atmospheric column. A decomposition of the horizontal dry enthalpy advection into mean, transient, and stationary eddy fluxes identifies the longitudinal thermal gradient due to zonal asymmetries and the meridional stationary eddy velocity as the most influential factors determining the pattern of horizontal moist enthalpy advection. Numerical simulations in which the TP is either retained or removed show that the TP influences the stationary enthalpy flux, and hence the MB front, primarily by changing the meridional stationary eddy velocity, with reinforced southerly wind over the MB region and northerly wind to its north. Changes in the longitudinal thermal gradient are mainly confined to the near downstream of the TP, with the resulting changes in zonal warm air advection having a lesser impact on the rainfall in the extended MB region.

Additional Information

© 2014 American Meteorological Society. Manuscript received 12 August 2013, in final form 23 December 2013. We thank Hyo-Seok Park for the AM2.1 model setup and several conversations, Tim Merlis and David Neelin for helpful discussions, and three anonymous reviewers, whose insightful comments helped improve the manuscript. We use the NCAR Command Language (version 6.1.2; http://dx.doi.org/ 10.5065/D6WD3XH5) to create the plots and analyze the data. The data analyses and simulations were conducted on the Caltech's Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences high-performance computing cluster.

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