Advances in Atmospheric Sciences

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 322–342

Progress in the study on the formation of the summertime subtropical anticyclone



The studies in China on the formation of the summertime subtropical anticyclone on the climate timescale are reviewed. New insights in resent studies are introduced. It is stressed that either in the free atmosphere or in the planetary boundary, the descending arm of the Hadley cell cannot be considered as a mechanism for the formation of the subtropical anticyclone. Then the theories of thermal adaptation of the atmosphere to external thermal forcing and the potential vorticity forcing are developed to understand the formation of the subtropical anticyclone in the three-dimensional domain. Numerical experiments are designed to verify these theories. Results show that in the boreal summer, the formation of the strong South Asian High in the upper troposphere and the subtropical anticyclone over the western Pacific in the middle and lower troposphere is, to a great extent, due to the convective latent heating associated with the Asian monsoon, but affected by orography and the surface sensible heating over the continents. On the other hand, the formation of the subtropical anticyclone at the surface over the northern Pacific and in the upper troposphere over North America is mainly due to the strong surface sensible heating over North America, but affected by radiation cooling over the eastern North Pacific. Moreover, in the real atmosphere such individual thermal forcing is well organized. By considering the different diabatic heating in synthesis, a quadruple heating pattern is found over each subtropical continent and its adjacent oceans in summer. A distinct circulation pattern accompanies this heating pattern. The global summer subtropical heating and circulation may be viewed as “mosaics” of such quadruplet heating and circulation patterns respectively. At last, some important issues for further research in understanding and predicting the variations of the subtropical anticyclone are raised.

Key words

subtropical anticyclone quadruplet heating mosaic circulation 


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© Advances in Atmospheric Sciences 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijing

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