Beth Dingley

and 3 more

Convective aggregation is an important atmospheric phenomenon which frequently occurs in idealised models in radiative-convective equilibrium (RCE), where the effects of land, rotation, sea surface temperature gradients, and the diurnal cycle are often removed. This aggregation is triggered and maintained by self-generated radiatively driven circulations, for which longwave feedbacks are essential. Many questions remain over how important the driving processes of aggregation in idealized models are in the real atmosphere. We approach this question by adding a continentally-sized, idealized tropical rainforest island into an RCE model to investigate how land-sea contrasts impact convective aggregation and its mechanisms. We show that convection preferentially forms over the island persistently in our simulation. This is forced by a large-scale thermally driven circulation. First, a sea-breeze circulation is triggered by the land-sea thermal contrast, driven by surface sensible heating. This sea-breeze circulation triggers convection which then generates longwave heating anomalies. We find that these longwave heating anomalies are essential for maintaining the aggregation of convection over the island through mechanism denial tests. We also show, by varying the island size, that the aggregated convective cluster appears to have a maximum spatial extent of 10,000 km. These results highlight that the mechanisms of idealized aggregation remain relevant when land is included in the model, and therefore these mechanisms could help us understand convective organization in the real-world.