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Journal Article

Monsoon Planet: Bimodal Rainfall Distribution due to Barrier Structure in Pressure Fields


Katzenberger,  Anja
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Petri,  Stefan
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Feulner,  Georg
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Levermann,  Anders
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Katzenberger, A., Petri, S., Feulner, G., Levermann, A. (2024): Monsoon Planet: Bimodal Rainfall Distribution due to Barrier Structure in Pressure Fields. - Journal of Climate, 37, 4, 1295-1315.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_29571
Monsoon systems transport water and energy across the globe, making them a central component of the global circulation system. Changes in different forcing parameters have the potential to fundamentally change the monsoon characteristics as indicated in various paleoclimatic records. Here, we use the Atmosphere Model developed at the Geo- physical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL-AM2) and couple it with a slab ocean in order to analyze the monsoon’s sen- sitivity to changes in different parameters on a planet with idealized topography (varying land position, slab depth, atmospheric CO2 concentration, solar radiation, sulfate aerosol concentration, and surface albedo). This Monsoon Planet concept of an aquaplanet with a broad zonal land stripe allows us to reduce the influence of topography and to access the relevant meridional monsoon dynamics. In simulations with monsoon dynamics, a bimodal rainfall distribution develops during the monsoon months with one maximum over the tropical ocean and the other one over land. The intensity and ex- tent of the monsoon depend on the relative height of a local maximum in the surface pressure field that is acting as a bar- rier and is determining the coastward moisture transport. Changes in the barrier height occur during the course of one year but can also be induced when varying different parameters in the sensitivity analysis (e.g., the increase of atmospheric CO2 reduces the barrier height, resulting in an increase of rainfall, while aerosols have the opposing effect). This bimodal rainfall structure separated by a pressure barrier is also present in reanalysis data of the West African monsoon.