The influence of sea- and land-breeze circulations on the diurnal variability in precipitation over a tropical island
- 1Laboratory for Climate and Ocean–Atmosphere Studies, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, School of Physics, Peking University, Beijing, China
- 2Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA
- 3Center for Advanced Data Assimilation and Predictability Techniques, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA
Abstract. This study examines the diurnal variation in precipitation over Hainan Island in the South China Sea using gauge observations from 1951 to 2012 and Climate Prediction Center MORPHing technique (CMORPH) satellite estimates from 2006 to 2015, as well as numerical simulations. The simulations are the first to use climatological mean initial and lateral boundary conditions to study the dynamic and thermodynamic processes (and the impacts of land–sea breeze circulations) that control the rainfall distribution and climatology. Precipitation is most significant from April to October and exhibits a strong diurnal cycle resulting from land–sea breeze circulations. More than 60 % of the total annual precipitation over the island is attributable to the diurnal cycle with a significant monthly variability. The CMORPH and gauge datasets agree well, except that the CMORPH data underestimate precipitation and have a 1 h peak delay. The diurnal cycle of the rainfall and the related land–sea breeze circulations during May and June were well captured by convection-permitting numerical simulations with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, which were initiated from a 10-year average ERA-Interim reanalysis. The simulations have a slight overestimation of rainfall amounts and a 1 h delay in peak rainfall time. The diurnal cycle of precipitation is driven by the occurrence of moist convection around noontime owing to low-level convergence associated with the sea-breeze circulations. The precipitation intensifies rapidly thereafter and peaks in the afternoon with the collisions of sea-breeze fronts from different sides of the island. Cold pools of the convective storms contribute to the inland propagation of the sea breeze. Generally, precipitation dissipates quickly in the evening due to the cooling and stabilization of the lower troposphere and decrease of boundary layer moisture. Interestingly, the rather high island orography is not a dominant factor in the diurnal variation in precipitation over the island.