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How tropical convection couples high moist static energy over land and ocean
  • Yi Zhang,
  • Stephan Fueglistaler
Yi Zhang
Princeton University

Corresponding Author:yz8@princeton.edu

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Stephan Fueglistaler
Princeton University
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We show that in the tropics, tropical atmospheric dynamics force the subcloud moist static energy (MSE) over land and ocean to be very similar in, and only in, regions of deep convection. Using observed rainfall as a proxy for convection and reanalysis data to calculate MSE, we show that subcloud MSE in the non-convective regions may differ substantially between land and ocean but is uniform across latitudes in convective regions even on a daily timescale. This result holds also in CMIP5 model simulations of past cold and future warm climates. Furthermore, the distribution of rainfall amount in subcloud MSE is very similar over land and ocean with the peak at 343 J/g and a half width at half maximum of 3 J/g. As a result, the annual-maximum subcloud MSE at each location over land and ocean is subject to a common upper bound set by the convective regions.
28 Jan 2020Published in Geophysical Research Letters volume 47 issue 2. 10.1029/2019GL086387