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Advances in Meteorology
Volume 2016, Article ID 9702607, 16 pages
Research Article

Representing the Australian Heat Low in a GCM Using Different Surface and Cloud Schemes

ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia

Received 9 April 2015; Accepted 16 September 2015

Academic Editor: Hiroyuki Hashiguchi

Copyright © 2016 Matthew M. Allcock and Duncan Ackerley. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The high insolation during the Southern Hemisphere summer leads to the development of a heat low over north-west Australia, which is a significant feature of the monsoon circulation. It is therefore important that General Circulation Models (GCMs) are able to represent this feature well in order to adequately represent the Australian Monsoon. Given that there are many different configurations of GCMs used globally (such as those used as part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project), it is difficult to assess the underlying causes of the differences in circulation between such GCMs. In order to address this problem, the work presented here makes use of three different configurations of the Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator (ACCESS). The configurations incorporate changes to the surface parameterization, cloud parameterization, and both together (surface and cloud) while keeping all other parameterized processes unchanged. The work finds that the surface scheme has a larger impact on the heat low than the cloud scheme, which is caused by differences in the soil thermal inertia. This study also finds that the differences in the circulation caused by changing the cloud and surface schemes together are the linear sum of the individual perturbations (i.e., no nonlinear interaction).