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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2018-108
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2018-108
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 30 Aug 2018

Research article | 30 Aug 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

The response of tropical precipitation to Earth's precession: The role of fluxes and vertical stability

Chetankumar Jalihal1,3, Joyce Helena Catharina Bosmans2, Jayaraman Srinivasan3, and Arindam Chakraborty1,3 Chetankumar Jalihal et al.
  • 1Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
  • 2Department of Environmental Science, Radboud University, the Netherlands
  • 3Divecha Centre for Climate Change, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India

Abstract. The changes in Earth's precession have an impact on tropical precipitation. These changes have been ascribed to the changes in solar radiation at the top of the atmosphere, but this cannot explain the variations in precipitation over oceans. Using energy and moisture budget equations we have shown that the surface energy fluxes, as well as vertical stability, have to be taken into consideration along with insolation, to explain these changes in precipitation. Energy fluxes explain most of the changes in precipitation, when looking at the mean response over the tropics. However, there are regions like the Arabian sea and Africa where stability change is the main cause of change in precipitation. Hence, insolation cannot be thought of as the sole driver of precipitation on orbital timescales, but surface energy and vertical stability should also be considered when looking at oceans or smaller land regions. The decrease in precipitation over the Bay of Bengal, with higher summer insolation, has been shown to be due to the decrease in surface latent heat fluxes. This is a consequence of the remote response of the atmosphere to the enhanced latent heating to the west of Bay of Bengal. This leads to a decrease in wind speed over the Bay of Bengal and hence reduces the total column energy available for convection.

Chetankumar Jalihal et al.
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Chetankumar Jalihal et al.
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Short summary
The changes in incoming solar radiation at the top of the atmosphere, due to changes in Earth's orbit are considered to be the primary factor that controls the changes in precipitation that occurred in the Earth's past. We have used energy and moisture budget equations in a climate model to show that changes in energy fluxes at the surface of the ocean are as important as those occurring at the top of the atmosphere. We have highlighted the role played by changes in vertical stability.
The changes in incoming solar radiation at the top of the atmosphere, due to changes in Earth's...
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