Characteristics of a persistent "pool of inhibited cloudiness" and its genesis over the Bay of Bengal associated with the Asian summer monsoon
Abstract. Using spatial and vertical distributions of clouds derived from multi-year spaceborne observations, this paper presents the characteristics of a significant "pool of inhibited cloudiness" covering an area of >106 km2 between 3–13° N and 77–90° E over the Bay of Bengal (BoB), persisting throughout the Asian summer monsoon season (ASM). Seasonal mean precipitation rate over the "pool" is <3 mm day−1 while that over the surrounding regions is mostly in the range of 6–14 mm day−1. Frequency of occurrence of clouds in this "pool" is ~20–40 % less than that over the surrounding deep convective regions. Zonal and meridional cross sections of the altitude distribution of clouds derived from CloudSat data reveal a vault-like structure at the "pool" with little cloudiness below ~7 km, indicating that this "pool" is almost fully contributed by the substantially reduced or near-absence of low- and middle-level clouds. This suggest the absence of convection in the "pool" region. Spaceborne scatterometer observations show divergence of surface wind at the "pool" and convergence at its surroundings, suggesting the existence of a mini-circulation embedded in the large-scale monsoon circulation. Reanalysis data shows a mini-circulation extending between the surface and ~3 km altitude, but its spatial structure does not match well with that inferred from the above observations. Sea surface at the south BoB during ASM is sufficiently warm to trigger convection, but is inhibited by the subsidence associated with the mini-circulation, resulting in the "pool". This mini-circulation might be a dynamical response of the atmosphere to the substantial spatial gradient of latent heating by large-scale cloudiness and precipitation at the vast and geographically fixed convective zones surrounding the "pool". Subsidence at the "pool" might contribute to the maintenance of convection at the above zones and be an important component of ASM that is overlooked hitherto.