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Heat balance in the Pacific warm pool atmosphere during TOGA COARE and CEPEX

Tian, B., G. J. Zhang, and V. Ramanathan (2001), Heat balance in the Pacific warm pool atmosphere during TOGA COARE and CEPEX, J. Climate, 14, 1881-1893, doi:10.1175/1520-0442(2001)014.

The atmosphere above the western equatorial Pacific warm pool (WP) is an important source for the dynamic and thermodynamic forcing of the atmospheric general circulation. This study uses a high-resolution reanalysis and several observational datasets including Global Precipitation Climatology Project precipitation, Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere (TOGA) Tropical Atmosphere Ocean moored buoys, and Earth Radiation Budget Experiment, TOGA Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Response Experiment (COARE), and Central Equatorial Pacific Experiment (CEPEX) radiation data to examine the details of the dynamical processes that lead to this net positive forcing. The period chosen is the period of two field experiments: TOGA COARE and CEPEX during December 1992-March 1993. The four months used in the study were sufficient to establish that the warm pool atmosphere (WPA) was close to a state of radiative-convective-dynamic equilibrium. The analysis suggests that the large-scale circulation imports about 200 W m(-2) of sensible heat and about 140 W m(-2) of latent energy into the WPA mainly through the low-level mass convergence and exports about 420 W m(-2) potential energy mainly through the upper-level mass divergence. Thus the net effect of the large-scale dynamics is to export about 80 W m(-2) energy out of the WPA and cool the WPA by about 0.8 K day(-1). The dynamic cooling in addition to the radiative cooling of about 0.4 K day(-1) or 40 W m(-2) leads to a net radiative-dynamic cooling of about 1.2 K day(-1) or 120 W m(-2), which should be balanced by convective heating of the same magnitude. The WPA radiative cooling is only about 0.4 K day(-1), which is considerably smaller than previously cited values in the Tropics. This difference is largely due to the cloud radiative forcing (CRF), about 70 W m(-2), associated with the deep convective cirrus clouds in the WPA, which compensates the larger clear sky radiative cooling. Thus moist convection heats the WPA, not only through the direct convective heating, that is, the vertical eddy sensible heat and latent energy transport, but also through the indirect convective heating, that is, the CRF of deep convective clouds. The CRF of the deep convective clouds has a dipole structure, in other words, strong heating of the atmosphere through convergence of longwave radiation and a comparable cooling of the surface through the reduction of shortwave radiation at the surface. As a result, the deep convective clouds enhance the required atmospheric heat transport and reduce the required oceanic heat transport significantly in the WP. A more detailed understanding of these convective processes is required to improve our understanding of the heat transport by the large-scale circulation in the Tropics.

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Research Program: 
Modeling Analysis and Prediction Program (MAP)
Atmospheric Composition
Radiation Science Program (RSP)
Energy & Water Cycle Program (EWCP)
Climate Variability and Change Program
Atmospheric Dynamics and Precipitation Program (ADP)