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A Climatology of Rossby Wave Breaking on the Southern Hemisphere Tropopause

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  • 1 South African Weather Service, Pretoria, South Africa
  • 2 Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
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Abstract

A 30-yr climatology of Rossby wave breaking (RWB) on the Southern Hemisphere (SH) tropopause is formed using 30 yr of reanalyses. Composite analysis of potential vorticity and meridional fluxes of wave activity show that RWB in the SH can be divided into two broad categories: anticyclonic and cyclonic events. While there is only weak asymmetry in the meridional direction and most events cannot be classified as equatorward or poleward in terms of the potential vorticity structure, the position and structure of the fluxes associated with equatorward breaking differs from those of poleward breaking. Anticyclonic breaking is more common than cyclonic breaking, except on the lower isentrope examined (320 K). There are marked differences in the seasonal variations of RWB on the two surfaces, with a winter minimum for RWB around 350 K but a summer minimum for RWB around 330 K. These seasonal variations are due to changes in the location of the tropospheric jets and dynamical tropopause. During winter the subtropical jet and tropopause at 350 K are collocated in the Australian–South Pacific Ocean region, resulting in a seasonal minimum in the 350-K RWB. During summer the polar front jet and 330-K tropopause are collocated over the Southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans, inhibiting RWB in this region.

Current affiliation: Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

Corresponding author address: Thando Ndarana, Private Bag X097, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa. E-mail: thando.ndarana@weathersa.co.za

Abstract

A 30-yr climatology of Rossby wave breaking (RWB) on the Southern Hemisphere (SH) tropopause is formed using 30 yr of reanalyses. Composite analysis of potential vorticity and meridional fluxes of wave activity show that RWB in the SH can be divided into two broad categories: anticyclonic and cyclonic events. While there is only weak asymmetry in the meridional direction and most events cannot be classified as equatorward or poleward in terms of the potential vorticity structure, the position and structure of the fluxes associated with equatorward breaking differs from those of poleward breaking. Anticyclonic breaking is more common than cyclonic breaking, except on the lower isentrope examined (320 K). There are marked differences in the seasonal variations of RWB on the two surfaces, with a winter minimum for RWB around 350 K but a summer minimum for RWB around 330 K. These seasonal variations are due to changes in the location of the tropospheric jets and dynamical tropopause. During winter the subtropical jet and tropopause at 350 K are collocated in the Australian–South Pacific Ocean region, resulting in a seasonal minimum in the 350-K RWB. During summer the polar front jet and 330-K tropopause are collocated over the Southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans, inhibiting RWB in this region.

Current affiliation: Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

Corresponding author address: Thando Ndarana, Private Bag X097, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa. E-mail: thando.ndarana@weathersa.co.za
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