AbstractThe linear atmospheric signature of ENSO, obtained by regressing fields of geopotential height Z, wind, vertical velocity, and rainfall upon the Niño 3.4 sea surface temperature (SST) index, is partitioned into zonally symmetric and eddy components. The zonally symmetric component is thermally forced by the narrowing and intensification of the zonally averaged equatorial rain belt during El Niño and mechanically forced by the weakening of the upper tropospheric equatorial stationary waves. The eddy component of the ENSO signature is decomposed into barotropic (BT) and baroclinic (BC) contributions, the latter into modal structures BC1 and BC2, separable functions of space (x, y) and pressure (p), using eigenvector analysis. BC1 exhibits a nearly equatorially symmetric, planetary wave structure comprising three dumbbell-shaped features suggestive of equatorial Rossby waves, with out of phase wind and geopotential height perturbations in the upper and lower troposphere. BC1 and BT exhibit coincident centers of action. In regions of the tropics where the flow in the climatological mean stationary waves is cyclonic, BT reinforces BC1 and vice versa, in accordance with vorticity balance considerations. BC1 and BT dominate the eddy ENSO signature in the free atmosphere. Most of the residual is captured by BC2, which exhibits a shallow, convergent, boundary layer signature forced by the weakening of the equatorial cold tongue in SST. The anomalous boundary layer convergence drives a deep convection signature whose upper tropospheric outflow is an integral part of the BC1 contribution to the ENSO signature.
Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences – American Meteorological Society
Published: Mar 17, 2017
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