Journal of Climate, 16, 1003-1009.

On the coexistence of an evaporation minimum and precipitation maximum in the warm pool

Adam H. Sobel
Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics and Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University, New York, NY.


Climatologically, the equatorial western Pacific warm pool region is a local minimum in surface evaporation and a local maximum in precipitation. The moist static energy budget in this situation requires a collocated minimum in radiative cooling of the atmosphere, which is supplied by the greenhouse effect of high clouds associated with the precipitation. However, this diagnostic statement does not explain why the evaporation minimum should coexist with the precipitation maximum. A simple physical model of the Walker circulation is used as the basis for an argument that the surface heat budget and the radiative effects of high clouds are essential to the existence of this feature, while variations in surface wind speed are not, though the latter may play an important role in determining the sea surface temperature.