The forcing of monthly precipitation variability over Southwest Asia during the boreal cold season

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Abstract

Southwest Asia, defined as the region containing the countries of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan, is water scarce and receives nearly 75% of its annual rainfall during the boreal cold season of November-April. The forcing of southwest Asia precipitation has been previously examined for the entire boreal cold season from the perspective of climate variability originating over the Atlantic and tropical Indo-Pacific Oceans. This study examines the intermonthly differences in precipitation variability over southwest Asia and the atmospheric conditions directly responsible in forcing monthly November-April precipitation. Seasonally averaged November-April precipitation over southwest Asia is significantly correlated with sea surface temperature (SST) patterns consistent with Pacific decadal variability (PDV), El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and the long-term change of global SST (LT). In contrast, the precipitation variability during the individual months of November-April is unrelated and is correlated with SST signatures that include PDV, ENSO, and LT in different combinations. Despite strong intermonthly differences in precipitation variability during November-April over southwest Asia, similar atmospheric circulations, highlighted by a stationary equivalent barotropic Rossby wave centered over Iraq, force the monthly spatial distributions of precipitation. Tropospheric flow on the eastern side of the equivalent barotropic Rossby wave modifies the flux of moisture and advects the mean meridional temperature gradient, resulting in temperature advection that is balanced by vertical motions over southwest Asia. The forcing of monthly southwest Asia precipitation by equivalent barotropic Rossby waves is different from the forcing by baroclinic Rossby waves associated with tropically forced-only modes of climate variability.

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Hoell, A., Shukla, S., Barlow, M., Cannon, F., Kelley, C., & Funk, C. (2015). The forcing of monthly precipitation variability over Southwest Asia during the boreal cold season. Journal of Climate, 28(18), 7038–7056. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00757.1

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