The physical processes causing nocturnal rainfall over northwest Australia and their representation in high- and low-resolution models with parametrized convection

Article


Ackerley, D., Birch, C. E., Garcia-Carreras, L., Lavender, S. L. and Weller, E.. 2018. "The physical processes causing nocturnal rainfall over northwest Australia and their representation in high- and low-resolution models with parametrized convection." Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. 144 (711), pp. 511-528. https://doi.org/10.1002/qj.3223
Article Title

The physical processes causing nocturnal rainfall over northwest Australia and their representation in high- and low-resolution models with parametrized convection

ERA Journal ID1987
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsAckerley, D. (Author), Birch, C. E. (Author), Garcia-Carreras, L. (Author), Lavender, S. L. (Author) and Weller, E. (Author)
Journal TitleQuarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
Journal Citation144 (711), pp. 511-528
Number of Pages18
Year2018
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
Place of PublicationHoboken, NJ, United States
ISSN0035-9009
1477-870X
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1002/qj.3223
Web Address (URL)https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/qj.3223
Abstract

The diurnal cycle of precipitation in the Tropics is represented poorly in general circulation models (GCMs), which is primarily attributed to the representation of moist convection. Nonetheless, in areas where precipitation is driven by the diurnal cycle in the synoptic-scale flow, GCMs may represent that circulation–rainfall relationship well. Over northwest Australia there is a tendency for precipitation to peak overnight where the diurnal cycle of the heat low circulation leads to the development of strong convergence after local sunset. In order to assess the heat low–precipitation relationship in more detail, a case-study approach is used to investigate the actual ‘weather’ that is responsible for night-time precipitation. The study shows that, where there is sufficient moisture, precipitation typically forms along convergence zones that coincide with boundaries between relatively moist and dry air masses (termed a ‘dryline’). A convergence line detection algorithm is then used to identify the fraction of observed nocturnal rainfall that is associated with any convergence zones. The same evaluation is then undertaken for a relatively high-resolution (MetUM) and low-resolution (ACCESS1.0) GCM, which simulate rainfall-generation processes similar to the observations. Finally, the convergence line detection/precipitation algorithm is run on other GCM data (from CMIP5) to see whether the same processes occur despite different model configurations (i.e. physics), which appears to be the case.

KeywordsCMIP5; convergence; dryline; heat low; MetUM; nocturnal; northwest Australia; rainfall; climate models; precipitation (meteorology); Australia; rain
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020370108. Meteorology
370202. Climatology
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Byline AffiliationsMonash University
University of Leeds, United Kingdom
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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