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The El Niño Impact on the Summer Monsoon in Brazil: Regional Processes versus Remote Influences

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  • 1 Department of Physics, Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil
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Abstract

The El Niño impact on Brazil's summer monsoon has not been adequately assessed through seasonal analysis because it shows significant subseasonal variations. In this study, the El Niño influence on the summer monsoon circulation, rainfall, and temperature is analyzed with monthly resolution, using data from a dense network of stations. The expected precipitation percentiles during the monsoon season of El Niño (EN) events are calculated, as well as anomalies of surface temperature and thermodynamic parameters. This information is analyzed jointly with anomaly composites of several circulation parameters. The analysis shows that some precipitation and circulation anomalies, which are consistent and important during part of the season, are smoothed out in a seasonal analysis. There are abrupt changes of anomalies within the summer monsoon season, suggesting the prevalence of regional processes over remote influences during part of the season. The probable role of remote influences and regional processes is assessed.

The anomalous heat sources associated with El Niño perturb the Walker and Hadley circulations over South America and generate Rossby wave trains that produce important effects in the subtropics and extratropics. In the early summer monsoon season, remotely produced atmospheric perturbations prevail over Brazil. Anticyclonic low-level anomalies predominate over central-east Brazil, in the Tropics and subtropics, due to the subsidence over the Amazon and to Rossby waves in the subtropics. Easterly moisture inflow from the Atlantic is favored, but diverted toward northern South America (SA) and south Brazil. There are negative precipitation anomalies in north and central-east Brazil and positive ones in south Brazil. These precipitation anomalies are favored by the perturbation in the Walker and Hadley circulation over the east Pacific and South America, and by a Rossby wave train over southern SA that originates in the eastern Pacific. In January, with the enhancement of the continental subtropical heat low by anomalous surface heating during the spring, there is anomalous low-level convergence and cyclonic circulation over southeast Brazil, while at the upper levels anomalies of divergence and anticyclonic circulation prevail. This anomalous circulation directs moisture flux toward central-east Brazil, causing moisture convergence in this region. A favorable thermodynamic structure enhances precipitation over central-east Brazil, the dry anomalies in north Brazil are displaced northward, and the anomalies in south Brazil almost disappear. In February, after the above-normal precipitation of January, the surface temperature anomalies turn negative and the precipitation diminishes in central-east Brazil. There are negative rainfall anomalies in north Brazil and in the South Atlantic convergence zone (SACZ) and positive ones in south Brazil.

Influence function analysis shows that while the anomalies of circulation over southeast Brazil in the spring of El Niño years are mostly due to remote influences from the tropical east Pacific, those in January are probably due to local influence. During this month the monsoonlike circulation is enhanced. Simultaneous and lagged correlation analysis of SST and rainfall in central-east Brazil shows that SST anomalies in the Atlantic Ocean off the southeastern coast of Brazil fluctuate on the same timescale as the circulation and precipitation anomalies.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Alice M. Grimm, Department of Physics, Federal University of Parana, Caixa Postal 19044, CEP 81531-990 Curitiba, Brazil. Email: grimm@fisica.ufpr.br

Abstract

The El Niño impact on Brazil's summer monsoon has not been adequately assessed through seasonal analysis because it shows significant subseasonal variations. In this study, the El Niño influence on the summer monsoon circulation, rainfall, and temperature is analyzed with monthly resolution, using data from a dense network of stations. The expected precipitation percentiles during the monsoon season of El Niño (EN) events are calculated, as well as anomalies of surface temperature and thermodynamic parameters. This information is analyzed jointly with anomaly composites of several circulation parameters. The analysis shows that some precipitation and circulation anomalies, which are consistent and important during part of the season, are smoothed out in a seasonal analysis. There are abrupt changes of anomalies within the summer monsoon season, suggesting the prevalence of regional processes over remote influences during part of the season. The probable role of remote influences and regional processes is assessed.

The anomalous heat sources associated with El Niño perturb the Walker and Hadley circulations over South America and generate Rossby wave trains that produce important effects in the subtropics and extratropics. In the early summer monsoon season, remotely produced atmospheric perturbations prevail over Brazil. Anticyclonic low-level anomalies predominate over central-east Brazil, in the Tropics and subtropics, due to the subsidence over the Amazon and to Rossby waves in the subtropics. Easterly moisture inflow from the Atlantic is favored, but diverted toward northern South America (SA) and south Brazil. There are negative precipitation anomalies in north and central-east Brazil and positive ones in south Brazil. These precipitation anomalies are favored by the perturbation in the Walker and Hadley circulation over the east Pacific and South America, and by a Rossby wave train over southern SA that originates in the eastern Pacific. In January, with the enhancement of the continental subtropical heat low by anomalous surface heating during the spring, there is anomalous low-level convergence and cyclonic circulation over southeast Brazil, while at the upper levels anomalies of divergence and anticyclonic circulation prevail. This anomalous circulation directs moisture flux toward central-east Brazil, causing moisture convergence in this region. A favorable thermodynamic structure enhances precipitation over central-east Brazil, the dry anomalies in north Brazil are displaced northward, and the anomalies in south Brazil almost disappear. In February, after the above-normal precipitation of January, the surface temperature anomalies turn negative and the precipitation diminishes in central-east Brazil. There are negative rainfall anomalies in north Brazil and in the South Atlantic convergence zone (SACZ) and positive ones in south Brazil.

Influence function analysis shows that while the anomalies of circulation over southeast Brazil in the spring of El Niño years are mostly due to remote influences from the tropical east Pacific, those in January are probably due to local influence. During this month the monsoonlike circulation is enhanced. Simultaneous and lagged correlation analysis of SST and rainfall in central-east Brazil shows that SST anomalies in the Atlantic Ocean off the southeastern coast of Brazil fluctuate on the same timescale as the circulation and precipitation anomalies.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Alice M. Grimm, Department of Physics, Federal University of Parana, Caixa Postal 19044, CEP 81531-990 Curitiba, Brazil. Email: grimm@fisica.ufpr.br

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