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Interactions between ENSO, transient circulation, and tropical convection over the Pacific

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Abstract

The interannual variability of transient waves and convection over the central and eastern Pacific is examined using 30 northern winters of NCEP-NCAR reanalyses (1968/69 - 1997/98) and satellite outgoing longwave radiation data starting in 1974. There is a clear signal associated with the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, such that differences in the seasonal-mean basic state lead to statistically significant changes in the behavior of the transients and convection (with periods less than 30 days), which then feed back onto the basic state. During a warm event (El Nino phase), the Northern Hemisphere subtropical jet is strengthened over the central Pacific; the region of upper-tropospheric mean easterlies over the tropical western Pacific expands eastwards past the dateline, and the upper-tropospheric mean ``westerly duct'' over the tropical eastern Pacific is weakened. The transients tend to propagate along the almost continuous waveguide of the subtropical jet; equatorward propagation into the westerly duct is reduced. The transient convective events over the ITCZ typically observed to be associated with these equatorward-propagating waves are subsequently reduced both in number and magnitude, leading to a seasonal-mean net negative diabatic heating anomaly over the central Pacific from 10N-20N, which then feeds back onto the basic state. During a cold event (La Nina phase), the situation is reversed. The different propagation characteristics of the transients in El Nino and La Nina basic states are well simulated in initial value experiments with a primitive equation model.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3062-3086
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Climate
Volume12
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Peer-reviewedYes

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