Convectively forced diurnal gravity waves in the maritime continent

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Long-lived, zonally propagating diurnal rainfall disturbances are a highly pronounced and common feature in the Maritime Continent (MC). A recent study argues that these disturbances can be explained as diurnally phase-locked gravity waves. Here we explore the origins of these waves through regional cloud-permitting numerical model experiments. The gravity waves are reproduced and isolated in the model framework through the combined use of realistic geography and diurnally cyclic lateral boundary conditions representative of both characteristic easterly and westerly background zonal flow regimes. These flow regimes are characteristic of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) suppressed and active phase in the MC, respectively. Tests are conducted wherein Borneo, Sumatra, or both islands and/or their orography are removed. These tests imply that the diurnal gravity waves are excited and maintained directly by latent heating from the vigorous mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) that form nocturnally in both Borneo and Sumatra. Removing orography has only a secondary impact on both the MCSs and the gravity waves, implying that it is not critical to these waves. We therefore hypothesize that diurnal gravity waves are fundamentally driven by mesoscale organized deep convection, and are only sensitive to orography to the measure that the convection is affected by the orography and its mesoscale flows. Factor separation further reveals that the nonlinear interaction of synchronized diurnal cycles in Sumatra and Borneo slightly amplifies this gravity wave mode compared to if either island existed in isolation. This nonlinear feedback appears most prominently at longitudes directly between the two islands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1119-1136
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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