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Simulation of the diurnal variation of rainfall over the western Maritime Continent using a regional climate model

Abstract

This study evaluates the performance of the MIT regional climate model (MRCM) in simulating the temporal and spatial structure of the diurnal variation of rainfall over the western Maritime Continent. In order to investigate the effect of model resolution, two identical simulations with 27 and 12 km horizontal resolutions are performed for a 30-year period (1982–2011). The simulated climatological features are compared with the TRMM 3B42 3-h observations. The analysis is focused on the regional characteristics of diurnal variation of rainfall in terms of phase and amplitude, with an emphasis on the difference in behaviors between land and ocean. Systematic modulation of the diurnal cycle over land and ocean characterizes the rainfall pattern over the Maritime Continent. The evening peak with strong amplitude over land and the morning peak with weak amplitude over ocean reflect the contrast in behavior between land and ocean. In general, both simulations are able to capture major features of diurnal rainfall variations with similarity in several aspects to TRMM observation. However, the improvement from increasing resolution is more apparent in the coastal and offshore areas, where rainfall processes are strongly tied with low-level wind that varies diurnally and regionally. A more realistic coastline and a sharp gradient of elevation derived from high resolution boundary conditions enhance the local circulation associated with land-sea breeze and topographic complexity, which in turn induces a favorable condition for the offshore convergence and associated rainfall occurrence. The MRCM with 12 km resolution simulates propagation of rainfall from inland to coastal or offshore areas, such as in the vicinity of western Sumatra, northern Java, and western Borneo Islands. However, further improvements can be gained from even higher resolution models, such as convection-permitting scale.

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Acknowledgements

This research is supported by the National Research Foundation Singapore under its Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise programme. The Center for Environmental Sensing and Modeling is an interdisciplinary research group of the Singapore MIT Alliance for Research and Technology. The first author was partly supported by the Korea Agency for Infrastructure Technology Advancement (KAIA) Grant funded by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (Grant 17AWMP-B083066-04).

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Correspondence to Eun-Soon Im.

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Im, ES., Eltahir, E.A.B. Simulation of the diurnal variation of rainfall over the western Maritime Continent using a regional climate model. Clim Dyn 51, 73–88 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-017-3907-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-017-3907-3

Keywords

  • Maritime Continent
  • Regional Climate Model Version
  • TRMM Observation
  • Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM)
  • Diurnal Rainfall Variation