Transients and the Extratropical Response to El Niño

Isaac M. Held Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton University, Prinecton, New Jersey

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Steven W. Lyons Department of Meteorology Texas A & M University, College Station, Texas

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Sumant Nigam Center for the Study of Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Interactions, Department of Meteorology, University of Maryland, College Park. Maryland

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Abstract

A baroclinic stationary wave model linearized about a zonally symmetric flow is used to interpret the extra-tropical atmospheric response to El Niño produced by a general circulation model. When forced by the anomalous diabatic beating and tendency due to transients, the linear model provides a useful simulation of this response. The direct response to anomalous diabatic heating is found to be small in the extratropics; the dominant term is the response to the anomalous transients, particularly the anomalous upper tropospheric transients in the vorticity equation. These results are complementary to those obtained with a nonlinear barotropic model by Held and Kang, and indicate that the anomalous subtropical convergence which plays a key role in that study is itself primarily forced by the anomalous transients. One can distinguish between two distinct parts of the response of the transients to the tropical heating: the movement of the Pacific storm track associated with the anomalous extratropical wave train, and changes in the penetration of Rossby waves into the tropics resulting from the modified tropical winds.

Abstract

A baroclinic stationary wave model linearized about a zonally symmetric flow is used to interpret the extra-tropical atmospheric response to El Niño produced by a general circulation model. When forced by the anomalous diabatic beating and tendency due to transients, the linear model provides a useful simulation of this response. The direct response to anomalous diabatic heating is found to be small in the extratropics; the dominant term is the response to the anomalous transients, particularly the anomalous upper tropospheric transients in the vorticity equation. These results are complementary to those obtained with a nonlinear barotropic model by Held and Kang, and indicate that the anomalous subtropical convergence which plays a key role in that study is itself primarily forced by the anomalous transients. One can distinguish between two distinct parts of the response of the transients to the tropical heating: the movement of the Pacific storm track associated with the anomalous extratropical wave train, and changes in the penetration of Rossby waves into the tropics resulting from the modified tropical winds.

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