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Observed Propagation and Structure of the 33-h Atmospheric Kelvin Wave

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  • 1 Cooperative Research Centre for Southern Hemisphere Meteorology, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  • | 2 NCAR, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

The structure of the 33-h Kelvin wave, a normal mode of the atmosphere, is examined in 6-hourly station and NCEP–NCAR reanalysis data. Cross-spectral analysis of 6 yr (1993–98) of tropical station pressure data shows a peak in coherence in a narrow frequency band centered near 0.74 cycles per day, corresponding to a period of approximately 33 h. The phase angles are consistent with an eastward-propagating zonal-wavenumber-1 structure, implying an equatorial phase speed of approximately 340 m s−1. The global structure of the mode is revealed by empirical orthogonal function and regression analysis of 31 yr (1968–98) of reanalysis data. The horizontal structure shows a zonal-wavenumber-1 equatorial Kelvin wave with an equatorial trapping scale of approximately 34° lat. The vertical structure has zero phase change. The amplitude of the wave is approximately constant in the troposphere with an equatorial geopotential height perturbation of 0.9 m, and then increases exponentially with height in the stratosphere. Cross-spectral analysis between the station and reanalysis data shows that the results from the two datasets are consistent. No evidence can be found for forcing of the wave by deep tropical convection, which is is examined using a twice-daily outgoing longwave radiation dataset.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Adrian Matthews, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom.

Email: a.j.matthews@uea.ac.uk

Abstract

The structure of the 33-h Kelvin wave, a normal mode of the atmosphere, is examined in 6-hourly station and NCEP–NCAR reanalysis data. Cross-spectral analysis of 6 yr (1993–98) of tropical station pressure data shows a peak in coherence in a narrow frequency band centered near 0.74 cycles per day, corresponding to a period of approximately 33 h. The phase angles are consistent with an eastward-propagating zonal-wavenumber-1 structure, implying an equatorial phase speed of approximately 340 m s−1. The global structure of the mode is revealed by empirical orthogonal function and regression analysis of 31 yr (1968–98) of reanalysis data. The horizontal structure shows a zonal-wavenumber-1 equatorial Kelvin wave with an equatorial trapping scale of approximately 34° lat. The vertical structure has zero phase change. The amplitude of the wave is approximately constant in the troposphere with an equatorial geopotential height perturbation of 0.9 m, and then increases exponentially with height in the stratosphere. Cross-spectral analysis between the station and reanalysis data shows that the results from the two datasets are consistent. No evidence can be found for forcing of the wave by deep tropical convection, which is is examined using a twice-daily outgoing longwave radiation dataset.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Adrian Matthews, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom.

Email: a.j.matthews@uea.ac.uk

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