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The diurnal path to persistent convective self-aggregation
  • Gorm Gruner Jensen,
  • Romain Fiévet,
  • Jan Olaf Haerter
Gorm Gruner Jensen
Niels Bohr Institute

Corresponding Author:gruner.jensen@nbi.ku.dk

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Romain Fiévet
Niels Bohr Institute
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Jan Olaf Haerter
Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen
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Clustering of tropical thunderstorms constitutes an important climate feedback because it influences the radiative balance. Convective self-aggregation (CSA) is a profound modeling paradigm for explaining the clustering of tropical oceanic thunderstorms. However, CSA is hampered in the realistic limit of fine model resolution when cold pools—dense air masses beneath thunderstorm clouds—are well-resolved. Studies on CSA usually assume the surface temperature to be constant, despite realistic surface temperatures varying significantly between night and day.
Here we mimic the diurnal cycle in cloud-resolving numerical experiments by prescribing a surface temperature oscillation. Our simulations show that the diurnal cycle enables CSA at fine resolutions, and that the process is even accelerated by finer resolutions. We attribute these findings to vigorous combined cold pools emerging in symbiosis with mesoscale convective systems. Such cold pools suppress buoyancy in extended regions (~100 km) and enable the formation of persistent dry patches. Our findings help clarify how the tropical cloud field forms sustained clusters under realistic conditions and may have implications for the origin of extreme thunderstorm rainfall and tropical cyclones.