A model of intermediate complexity based on quasi-equilibrium theory-a version of the quasi-equilibrium tropical circulation model with a prognostic atmospheric boundary layer, as well as two free-tropospheric modes in momentum, and one each in moisture and temperature-is used in a zonally symmetric aquaplanet configuration to simulate aspects of the South Asian monsoon and its variability. Key qualitative features of both the mean state and the 30-60-day mode of the intraseasonal variability are simulated satisfactorily. The model has two limit cycles of similar period and structure that can account for this mode. Both feature northward propagation of the tropical convergence zone from 5 degrees S to 25 degrees N with a period of about 50 days. The dynamics of the oscillations are investigated. The system reaches a Hopf bifurcation when the asymmetry of the sea surface temperature (SST) forcing is increased. Beyond the bifurcation, the mean flow is linearly unstable, and the one linearly unstable mode is similar in structure and period to the nonlinear mode. The wind-induced surface heat fluxes are necessary to obtain the instability of the mean monsoon flow, as are the 2 degrees of freedom in the vertical structure of both humidity and wind.
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