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Equatorial Waves in Opposite QBO Phases

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  • 1 National Centre for Atmospheric Science, and Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
  • 2 Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, and Grantham Institute for Climate Change, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom
  • 3 Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, and Met Office, Exeter, United Kingdom
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Abstract

A methodology for identifying equatorial waves is used to analyze the multilevel 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40) data for two different years (1992 and 1993) to investigate the behavior of the equatorial waves under opposite phases of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO). A comprehensive view of 3D structures and of zonal and vertical propagation of equatorial Kelvin, westward-moving mixed Rossby–gravity (WMRG), and n = 1 Rossby (R1) waves in different QBO phases is presented. Consistent with expectation based on theory, upward-propagating Kelvin waves occur more frequently during the easterly QBO phase than during the westerly QBO phase. However, the westward-moving WMRG and R1 waves show the opposite behavior. The presence of vertically propagating equatorial waves in the stratosphere also depends on the upper tropospheric winds and tropospheric forcing.

Typical propagation parameters such as the zonal wavenumber, zonal phase speed, period, vertical wavelength, and vertical group velocity are found. In general, waves in the lower stratosphere have a smaller zonal wavenumber, shorter period, faster phase speed, and shorter vertical wavelength than those in the upper troposphere. All of the waves in the lower stratosphere show an upward group velocity and downward phase speed. When the phase of the QBO is not favorable for waves to propagate, their phase speed in the lower stratosphere is larger and their period is shorter than in the favorable phase, suggesting Doppler shifting by the ambient flow and a filtering of the slow waves. Tropospheric WMRG and R1 waves in the Western Hemisphere also show upward phase speed and downward group velocity, with an indication of their forcing from middle latitudes. Although the waves observed in the lower stratosphere are dominated by “free” waves, there is evidence of some connection with previous tropical convection in the favorable year for the Kelvin waves in the warm water hemisphere and WMRG and R1 waves in the Western Hemisphere, which is suggestive of the importance of convective forcing for the existence of propagating coupled Kelvin waves and midlatitude forcing for the existence of coupled WMRG and R1 waves.

Corresponding author address: Gui-Ying Yang, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Earley Gate, Reading RG6 6BB, United Kingdom. E-mail: g.y.yang@reading.ac.uk

Abstract

A methodology for identifying equatorial waves is used to analyze the multilevel 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40) data for two different years (1992 and 1993) to investigate the behavior of the equatorial waves under opposite phases of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO). A comprehensive view of 3D structures and of zonal and vertical propagation of equatorial Kelvin, westward-moving mixed Rossby–gravity (WMRG), and n = 1 Rossby (R1) waves in different QBO phases is presented. Consistent with expectation based on theory, upward-propagating Kelvin waves occur more frequently during the easterly QBO phase than during the westerly QBO phase. However, the westward-moving WMRG and R1 waves show the opposite behavior. The presence of vertically propagating equatorial waves in the stratosphere also depends on the upper tropospheric winds and tropospheric forcing.

Typical propagation parameters such as the zonal wavenumber, zonal phase speed, period, vertical wavelength, and vertical group velocity are found. In general, waves in the lower stratosphere have a smaller zonal wavenumber, shorter period, faster phase speed, and shorter vertical wavelength than those in the upper troposphere. All of the waves in the lower stratosphere show an upward group velocity and downward phase speed. When the phase of the QBO is not favorable for waves to propagate, their phase speed in the lower stratosphere is larger and their period is shorter than in the favorable phase, suggesting Doppler shifting by the ambient flow and a filtering of the slow waves. Tropospheric WMRG and R1 waves in the Western Hemisphere also show upward phase speed and downward group velocity, with an indication of their forcing from middle latitudes. Although the waves observed in the lower stratosphere are dominated by “free” waves, there is evidence of some connection with previous tropical convection in the favorable year for the Kelvin waves in the warm water hemisphere and WMRG and R1 waves in the Western Hemisphere, which is suggestive of the importance of convective forcing for the existence of propagating coupled Kelvin waves and midlatitude forcing for the existence of coupled WMRG and R1 waves.

Corresponding author address: Gui-Ying Yang, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Earley Gate, Reading RG6 6BB, United Kingdom. E-mail: g.y.yang@reading.ac.uk
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