Effects of Rotation Rate and Seasonal Forcing on the ITCZ Extent in Planetary Atmospheres
The authors study a wide range of atmospheric circulations with an idealized moist general circulation model to evaluate the mechanisms controlling intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) migrations. They employ a zonally symmetric aquaplanet slab ocean of fixed depth and force top-of-atmosphere insolation to remain fixed at the pole for an "eternal solstice" simulation and also vary seasonally for a range of rotation rates, keeping all other parameters Earth-like. For rotation rates Ω_E/8 and slower, a transient maximum in zonal-mean precipitation appears at the summer pole; however, the ITCZ associated with the ascending branch of the Hadley circulation lies at ~60°. The authors assess how widely used predictors of the ITCZ position perform in this wide parameter space. Standard predictors based on different estimates of the Hadley cell's poleward extent are correlated with but overestimate off-equatorial ITCZ locations. Interestingly, in the eternal-solstice case for Earth's rotation rate, the ITCZ remains at subtropical latitudes even though the lower-level moist static energy maximizes at the summer pole. While seemingly at odds with convective quasi-equilibrium arguments, this can happen because at Earth's rotation rates, the thermal stratification set in convective regions can only be communicated within the tropics, where temperature gradients are constrained to be weak. The authors therefore develop an understanding of the ITCZ's position based on top-of-atmosphere energetics and the boundary layer momentum budget and argue that friction and pressure gradient forces determine the region of maximum convergence, offering a modified dynamical perspective on the monsoon-like seasonal weather patterns of terrestrial planets.
Additional Information© 2017 American Meteorological Society. Manuscript received 6 January 2016, in final form 14 November 2016. Simulations were carried out using the Hoffman2 Cluster hosted by UCLA's Institute for Digital Research and Education. The comments of our three anonymous reviewers and editor helped greatly focus and strengthen the final manuscript. S.B. acknowledges support by the National Science Foundation Grant AGS-1462544. S.F. and J.M. were supported by NASA Grants NNX12AI71G and NNX12AM81G, and S.F. was supported in part by UCLA's Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship.
Published - jas-d-16-0014.1.pdf