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1997
Flatau, M, Flatau PJ, Phoebus P, Niller PP.  1997.  The feedback between equatorial convection and local radiative and evaporative processes: The implications for intraseasonal oscillations. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. 54:2373-2386.   10.1175/1520-0469(1997)054<2373:tfbeca>2.0.co;2   AbstractWebsite

Existing theories of the Madden-Julian oscillation neglect the feedback between the modification of sea surface temperature by the convection and development of a convective cluster itself. The authors show that the convection-generated SST gradient plays an important role in cluster propagation and development. The relative importance of radiative and evaporative fluxes in SST regulation is also discussed. Various Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Response Experiment and Central Equatorial Pacific Experiment observation platforms are used to estimate the effects of equatorial convection on SST changes during March 1993. The data include drifting buoys and TAO-buoy array measurements, combined with the Navy Operational Global Atmospheric Prediction System analyzed surface wind fields and Geostationary Meteorological Satellite cloud-top temperatures. It is shown that during the equatorial convection episode SST is decreasing under and to the west of the convective heat source due to the large wind velocities and solar flux reduction. To the east of the source, in the convergence region of a Kelvin wave, low wind speeds and high insolation cause the SST to increase. The data are used to formulate an empirical relationship between wind speed and the 24-h SST change on the equator. Although formulated in terms of wind speed, this relationship implicitly includes radiative effects. This equation is then used in a global circulation model to examine the effect of SST feedback on the behavior of equatorial convection. A series of experiments is performed using an R15 general circulation model of the ''aquaplanet'' with a zonally symmetric SST distribution. In the case with fixed SSTs, equatorial wind fluctuations have the character of waves propagating around the globe with a phase speed of about 20 m s(-1). When the effect of SST modification is included, the fluctuations slow down and become more organized. In addition, a 40-60-day peak appears in the spectral analysis of equatorial precipitation.

1996
Collins, WD, Valero FPJ, Flatau PJ, Lubin D, Grassl H, Pilewskie P.  1996.  Radiative effects of convection in the tropical Pacific. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 101:14999-15012.   10.1029/95jd02534   AbstractWebsite

The radiative effects of tropical clouds at the tropopause and the ocean surface have been estimated by using in situ measurements from the Central Equatorial Pacific Experiment (CEPEX). The effect of clouds is distinguished from the radiative effects of the surrounding atmosphere by calculating the shortwave and longwave cloud forcing. These terms give the reduction in insolation and the increase in absorption of terrestrial thermal emission associated with clouds. At the tropopause the shortwave and longwave cloud forcing are nearly equal and opposite, even on daily timescales. Therefore the net effect of an ensemble of convective clouds is small compared to other radiative terms in the surface-tropospheric heat budget. This confirms the statistical cancellation of cloud forcing observed in Earth radiation budget measurements from satellites. At the surface the net effect of clouds is to reduce the radiant energy absorbed by the ocean. Under deep convective clouds the diurnally averaged reduction exceeds 150 W m(-2). The divergence of flux in the cloudy atmosphere can be estimated from the difference in cloud forcing at the surface and tropopause. The CEPEX observations show that the atmospheric cloud forcing is nearly equal and opposite to the surface forcing. Based upon the frequency of convection, the atmospheric forcing approaches 100 W m(-2) when the surface temperature is 303 K. The cloud forcing is closely related to the frequency of convective cloud systems. This relation is used in conjunction with cloud population statistics derived from satellite to calculate the change in surface cloud forcing with sea surface temperature. The net radiative cooling of the surface by clouds increases at a rate of 20 W m(-2)K(-1)during the CEPEX observing period.