Summer Upper-Level Vortex over the North Pacific

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The midocean trough in the North Pacific may form a favorable environment for the genesis of some synoptic disturbances. In contrast, the North Pacific anticyclone may hinder the downward penetration of these disturbances into the lower troposphere and prevent the moisture supply to these disturbances from the lower troposphere. Because no thick clouds, rainfall, and destructive surface winds are associated with these disturbances to attract attention, they have not been analyzed or documented. Actually, the upper-level wind speed within these disturbances is sometimes as strong as tropical cyclones and has the possibility of causing air traffic hazards in the western subtropic Pacific. With infrared images of the Japanese Geostationary Meteorological Satellite and the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis data, 25 North Pacific disturbances were identified over six summers (1993–98). Two aspects of these disturbances were explored: spatial structure and basic dynamics. For their structure, the disturbances possess a well-organized vortex in the middle to upper troposphere with a descending dry/cold core encircled by the moist ascending air around the vortex periphery; the secondary circulation of the vortex is opposite to other types of synoptic disturbances. Since vorticity reaches maximum values along the midocean trough line, barotrophic instability is suggested as a likely genesis mechanism of the vortex. After the vortex is formed, the horizontal advection of total vorticity results in its westward propagation, while the secondary circulation hinders this movement. Along its westward moving course, close to East Asia, there is a reduction in vortex size and a tangential speed increase inversely proportional to the vortex size. Diminishing its horizontal convergence/descending motion by the upper-tropospheric East Asian high and the lower-tropospheric monsoon low, the vortex eventually dissipates along the East Asian coast.

*Atmospheric Science Program, Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

+Department of Atmospheric Science, National Central University, Chung-Li, Taiwan.

#Center for Space and Remote Sensing Research, National Central University, Chung-Li, Taiwan.

Corresponding author address: Tsing-Chang (Mike) Chen, Atmospheric Science Program, Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, 3010 Agronomy Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011. E-mail: tmchen@iastate.edu

The midocean trough in the North Pacific may form a favorable environment for the genesis of some synoptic disturbances. In contrast, the North Pacific anticyclone may hinder the downward penetration of these disturbances into the lower troposphere and prevent the moisture supply to these disturbances from the lower troposphere. Because no thick clouds, rainfall, and destructive surface winds are associated with these disturbances to attract attention, they have not been analyzed or documented. Actually, the upper-level wind speed within these disturbances is sometimes as strong as tropical cyclones and has the possibility of causing air traffic hazards in the western subtropic Pacific. With infrared images of the Japanese Geostationary Meteorological Satellite and the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis data, 25 North Pacific disturbances were identified over six summers (1993–98). Two aspects of these disturbances were explored: spatial structure and basic dynamics. For their structure, the disturbances possess a well-organized vortex in the middle to upper troposphere with a descending dry/cold core encircled by the moist ascending air around the vortex periphery; the secondary circulation of the vortex is opposite to other types of synoptic disturbances. Since vorticity reaches maximum values along the midocean trough line, barotrophic instability is suggested as a likely genesis mechanism of the vortex. After the vortex is formed, the horizontal advection of total vorticity results in its westward propagation, while the secondary circulation hinders this movement. Along its westward moving course, close to East Asia, there is a reduction in vortex size and a tangential speed increase inversely proportional to the vortex size. Diminishing its horizontal convergence/descending motion by the upper-tropospheric East Asian high and the lower-tropospheric monsoon low, the vortex eventually dissipates along the East Asian coast.

*Atmospheric Science Program, Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

+Department of Atmospheric Science, National Central University, Chung-Li, Taiwan.

#Center for Space and Remote Sensing Research, National Central University, Chung-Li, Taiwan.

Corresponding author address: Tsing-Chang (Mike) Chen, Atmospheric Science Program, Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, 3010 Agronomy Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011. E-mail: tmchen@iastate.edu
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