The mechanisms regulating the relationship between the tropical island diurnal cycle and large-scale modes of tropical variability such as the boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation (BSISO) are explored in observations and an idealized model. Specifically, the local environmental conditions associated with diurnal cycle variability are explored. Using Luzon Island in the northern Philippines as an observational test case, a novel probabilistic framework is applied to improve the understanding of diurnal cycle variability. High-amplitude diurnal cycle days tend to occur with weak to moderate offshore low-level wind and near to above average column moisture in the local environment. The transition from the BSISO suppressed phase to the active phase is most likely to produce the wind and moisture conditions supportive of a substantial diurnal cycle over western Luzon and the South China Sea (SCS). Thus, the impact of the BSISO on the local diurnal cycle can be understood in terms of the change in the probability of favorable environmental conditions. Idealized high-resolution 3D Cloud Model 1 (CM1) simulations driven by base states derived from BSISO composite profiles are able to reproduce several important features of the observed diurnal cycle variability with BSISO phase, including the strong, land-based diurnal cycle and offshore propagation in the transition phases. Background wind appears to be the primary variable controlling the diurnal cycle response, but ambient moisture distinctly reduces precipitation strength in the suppressed BSISO phase and enhances it in the active phase.
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Abstract The impact of the environmental background wind on the diurnal cycle near tropical islands is examined in observations and an idealized model. Luzon Island in the northern Philippines is used as an observational test case. Composite diurnal cycles of CMORPH precipitation are constructed based on an index derived from the first empirical orthogonal function (EOF) of ERA5 zonal wind profiles. A strong precipitation diurnal cycle and pronounced offshore propagation in the leeward direction tends to occur on days with a weak, offshore prevailing wind. Strong background winds, particularly in the onshore direction, are associated with a suppressed diurnal cycle. Idealized high resolution 2-D Cloud Model 1 (CM1) simulations test the dependence of the diurnal cycle on environmental wind speed and direction by nudging the model base-state toward composite profiles derived from the reanalysis zonal wind index. These simulations can qualitatively replicate the observed development, strength, and offshore propagation of diurnally generated convection under varying wind regimes. Under strong background winds, the land-sea contrast is reduced, which leads to a substantial reduction in the strength of the sea-breeze circulation and precipitation diurnal cycle. Weak offshore prevailing winds favor a strong diurnal cycle and offshore leeward propagation, with the direction of propagation highly sensitive to the background wind in the lower free troposphere. Offshore propagation speed appears consistent with density current theory rather than a direct coupling to a single gravity wave mode, though gravity waves may contribute to a destabilization of the offshore environment.more » « less
Precipitation in the region surrounding the South China Sea over land and coastal waters exhibits a strong diurnal cycle associated with a land–sea temperature contrast that drives a sea-breeze circulation. The boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation (BSISO) is an important modulator of diurnal precipitation patterns, an understanding of which is a primary goal of the field campaign Propagation of Intraseasonal Tropical Oscillations (PISTON). Using 21 years of CMORPH precipitation for Luzon Island in the northern Philippines, it is shown that the diurnal cycle amplitude is generally maximized over land roughly 1 week before the arrival of the broader oceanic convective envelope associated with the BSISO. A strong diurnal cycle in coastal waters is observed in the transition from the inactive to active phase, associated with offshore propagation of the diurnal cycle. The diurnal cycle amplitude is in phase with daily mean precipitation over Mindanao but is nearly out of phase over Luzon. The BSISO influence on the diurnal cycle on the eastern side of topography is nearly opposite to that on the western side. Using wind, moisture, and radiation products from the ERA5 reanalysis, it is proposed that the enhanced diurnal cycle west of the mountains during BSISO suppressed phases is related to increased insolation and weaker prevailing onshore winds that promote a stronger sea-breeze circulation when compared with the May–October mean state. Offshore propagation is suppressed until ambient midlevel moisture increases over the surrounding oceans during the transition to the active BSISO phase. In BSISO enhanced phases, strong low-level winds and increased cloudiness suppress the sea-breeze circulation.