Simulation of the diurnal cycle in tropical rainfall and circulation during boreal summer with a high-resolution GCM

Jeffrey J. Ploshay, Ngar Cheung Lau

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33 Scopus citations


The simulation of the diurnal cycle (DC) of precipitation and surface wind pattern by a general circulation model (GCM) with a uniform horizontal resolution of 50 km over the global domain is evaluated. The model output is compared with observational counterparts based on datasets provided by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission and reanalysis products of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. The summertime diurnal characteristics over tropical regions in Asia, the Americas, and Africa are portrayed using the amplitude and phase of the first harmonic of the 24-h cycle, departures of data fields during selected hours from the daily mean, and differences between extreme phases of the DC. There is general agreement between the model and observations with respect to the large-scale land-sea contrasts in the DC. Maximum land precipitation, onshore flows, and landward migration of rainfall signals from the coasts occur in the afternoon, whereas peak maritime rainfall and offshore flows prevail in the morning. Seaward migration of precipitation is discernible over the western Bay of Bengal and South China Sea during nocturnal and morning hours. The evolution from low-intensity rainfall in the morning/early afternoon to heavier precipitation several hours later is also evident over selected continental sites. However, the observed incidenceofrainfall with very high intensity in midafternoon is not reproduced in the model atmosphere. Although the model provides an adequate simulation of the daytime upslope and nighttime downslope winds in the vicinity of mountain ranges, valleys, and basins, there are notable discrepancies between model and observations in the DC of precipitation near some of these orographic features. The model does not reproduce the observed seaward migration of precipitation from the western coasts of Myanmar (Burma) and India, and from individual islands of the Indonesian Archipelago at nighttime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3434-3453
Number of pages20
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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