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Baroclinic-to-Barotropic Pathway in El Niño–Southern Oscillation Teleconnections from the Viewpoint of a Barotropic Rossby Wave Source

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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Abstract

The baroclinic-to-barotropic pathway in ENSO teleconnections is examined from the viewpoint of a barotropic Rossby wave source that results from decomposition into barotropic and baroclinic components. Diagnoses using the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis are supplemented by analysis of the response of a tropical atmospheric model of intermediate complexity to the NCEP–NCAR barotropic Rossby wave source. Among the three barotropic Rossby wave source contributions (shear advection, vertical advection, and surface drag), the leading contribution is from shear advection and, more specifically, the mean baroclinic zonal wind advecting the anomalous baroclinic zonal wind. Vertical advection is the smallest term, while surface drag tends to cancel and reinforce the shear advection in different regions through damping on the baroclinic mode, which spins up a barotropic response. There are also nontrivial impacts of transients in the barotropic wind response to ENSO. Both tropical and subtropical baroclinic vorticity advection contribute to the barotropic component of the Pacific subtropical jet near the coast of North America, where the resulting barotropic wind contribution approximately doubles the zonal jet anomaly at upper levels, relative to the baroclinic anomalies alone. In this view, the barotropic Rossby wave source in the subtropics simply arises from the basic-state baroclinic flow acting on the well-known baroclinic ENSO flow pattern that spreads from the deep tropics into the subtropics over a scale of equatorial radius of deformation. This is inseparably connected to the leading deep tropical Rossby wave source that arises from eastern Pacific climatological baroclinic winds advecting the tropical portion of the same ENSO flow pattern.

Denotes content that is immediately available upon publication as open access.

© 2016 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author address: J. David Neelin, Dept. of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, 7127 Math Science Building, 405 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90095-1565. E-mail: neelin@atmos.ucla.edu

Abstract

The baroclinic-to-barotropic pathway in ENSO teleconnections is examined from the viewpoint of a barotropic Rossby wave source that results from decomposition into barotropic and baroclinic components. Diagnoses using the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis are supplemented by analysis of the response of a tropical atmospheric model of intermediate complexity to the NCEP–NCAR barotropic Rossby wave source. Among the three barotropic Rossby wave source contributions (shear advection, vertical advection, and surface drag), the leading contribution is from shear advection and, more specifically, the mean baroclinic zonal wind advecting the anomalous baroclinic zonal wind. Vertical advection is the smallest term, while surface drag tends to cancel and reinforce the shear advection in different regions through damping on the baroclinic mode, which spins up a barotropic response. There are also nontrivial impacts of transients in the barotropic wind response to ENSO. Both tropical and subtropical baroclinic vorticity advection contribute to the barotropic component of the Pacific subtropical jet near the coast of North America, where the resulting barotropic wind contribution approximately doubles the zonal jet anomaly at upper levels, relative to the baroclinic anomalies alone. In this view, the barotropic Rossby wave source in the subtropics simply arises from the basic-state baroclinic flow acting on the well-known baroclinic ENSO flow pattern that spreads from the deep tropics into the subtropics over a scale of equatorial radius of deformation. This is inseparably connected to the leading deep tropical Rossby wave source that arises from eastern Pacific climatological baroclinic winds advecting the tropical portion of the same ENSO flow pattern.

Denotes content that is immediately available upon publication as open access.

© 2016 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author address: J. David Neelin, Dept. of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, 7127 Math Science Building, 405 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90095-1565. E-mail: neelin@atmos.ucla.edu
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