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Analysis of a Reconstructed Oceanic Kelvin Wave Dynamic Height Dataset for the Period 1974–2005

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  • 1 Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York
  • | 2 Physical Sciences Division, NOAA–CIRES Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

Intraseasonal oceanic Kelvin waves are the dominant mode of variability in the thermocline of the equatorial Pacific. Dynamic height data from the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) Array of buoys moored in the tropical Pacific offer a convenient grid on which to study the waves but can only be effectively applied to study basinwide wave activity since about 1988 because of insufficient data at earlier times. Kelvin wave signals are also present in sea level data from island and coastal sites from the University of Hawaii Sea Level Center, some of which are available from before 1970 and up to 2003. This work describes a technique for reconstructing equatorial dynamic height data back to 1974, by utilizing regression relationships between the TAO data and daily sea level time series from 11 stations in the tropical Pacific. The reconstructed data are analyzed for skill in approximating Kelvin wave signals when TAO data are available. Reconstructed Kelvin wave signals prior to the TAO period are then analyzed for consistency with the wind stress anomalies that are responsible for generating the waves.

A regression analysis showing intraseasonal patterns of convection and winds that occur during periods of adjustment toward El Niño conditions is applied during the period 1974–87 for comparison with an earlier result calculated from TAO data for 1988–2005. Systematic changes in Kelvin wave phase speed with respect to ENSO documented for the latter period are confirmed in the earlier reconstructed dataset.

Corresponding author address: Paul E. Roundy, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University at Albany, State University of New York, DEAS-ES351, Albany, NY 12222. Email: roundy@atmos.albany.edu

Abstract

Intraseasonal oceanic Kelvin waves are the dominant mode of variability in the thermocline of the equatorial Pacific. Dynamic height data from the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) Array of buoys moored in the tropical Pacific offer a convenient grid on which to study the waves but can only be effectively applied to study basinwide wave activity since about 1988 because of insufficient data at earlier times. Kelvin wave signals are also present in sea level data from island and coastal sites from the University of Hawaii Sea Level Center, some of which are available from before 1970 and up to 2003. This work describes a technique for reconstructing equatorial dynamic height data back to 1974, by utilizing regression relationships between the TAO data and daily sea level time series from 11 stations in the tropical Pacific. The reconstructed data are analyzed for skill in approximating Kelvin wave signals when TAO data are available. Reconstructed Kelvin wave signals prior to the TAO period are then analyzed for consistency with the wind stress anomalies that are responsible for generating the waves.

A regression analysis showing intraseasonal patterns of convection and winds that occur during periods of adjustment toward El Niño conditions is applied during the period 1974–87 for comparison with an earlier result calculated from TAO data for 1988–2005. Systematic changes in Kelvin wave phase speed with respect to ENSO documented for the latter period are confirmed in the earlier reconstructed dataset.

Corresponding author address: Paul E. Roundy, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University at Albany, State University of New York, DEAS-ES351, Albany, NY 12222. Email: roundy@atmos.albany.edu

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