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Characterization of the Variability of the South Pacific Convergence Zone Using Satellite and Reanalysis Wind Products

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  • 1 College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware
  • 2 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
  • 3 Department of Oceanography, Pusan National University, Busan, South Korea
  • 4 College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, University of Delaware, and University of Delaware/Xiamen University, Joint Institute of Coastal Research and Management, Newark, Delaware
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Abstract

The variability of the South Pacific convergence zone (SPCZ) is evaluated using ocean surface wind products derived from the atmospheric reanalysis ERA-Interim for the period of 1981–2014 and QuickSCAT for the period of 1999–2009. From these products, indices were developed to represent the SPCZ strength, area, and centroid location. Excellent agreement is found between the indices derived from the two wind products during the QuikSCAT period in terms of the spatiotemporal structures of the SPCZ. The longer ERA-Interim product is used to study the variations of SPCZ properties on intraseasonal, seasonal, interannual, and decadal time scales. The SPCZ strength, area, and centroid latitude have a dominant seasonal cycle. In contrast, the SPCZ centroid longitude is dominated by intraseasonal variability due to MJO influence. The SPCZ indices are all correlated with El Niño–Southern Oscillation indices. Interannual and intraseasonal variations of SPCZ strength during strong El Niño are approximately twice as large as the respective seasonal variations. SPCZ strength depends more on the intensity of El Niño rather than the central-Pacific versus eastern-Pacific type. The change from positive to negative Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) around 1999 results in a westward shift of the SPCZ centroid longitude, a much smaller interannual swing in centroid latitude, and a decrease in SPCZ area. This study improves the understanding of the variations of the SPCZ on multiple time scales and reveals the variations of SPCZ strength not reported previously. The diagnostics analyses can be used to evaluate climate models to gauge their fidelity.

Corresponding author address: Autumn Kidwell, College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, 215 Robinson Hall, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716. E-mail: akidwell@udel.edu; xiaohai@udel.edu

Abstract

The variability of the South Pacific convergence zone (SPCZ) is evaluated using ocean surface wind products derived from the atmospheric reanalysis ERA-Interim for the period of 1981–2014 and QuickSCAT for the period of 1999–2009. From these products, indices were developed to represent the SPCZ strength, area, and centroid location. Excellent agreement is found between the indices derived from the two wind products during the QuikSCAT period in terms of the spatiotemporal structures of the SPCZ. The longer ERA-Interim product is used to study the variations of SPCZ properties on intraseasonal, seasonal, interannual, and decadal time scales. The SPCZ strength, area, and centroid latitude have a dominant seasonal cycle. In contrast, the SPCZ centroid longitude is dominated by intraseasonal variability due to MJO influence. The SPCZ indices are all correlated with El Niño–Southern Oscillation indices. Interannual and intraseasonal variations of SPCZ strength during strong El Niño are approximately twice as large as the respective seasonal variations. SPCZ strength depends more on the intensity of El Niño rather than the central-Pacific versus eastern-Pacific type. The change from positive to negative Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) around 1999 results in a westward shift of the SPCZ centroid longitude, a much smaller interannual swing in centroid latitude, and a decrease in SPCZ area. This study improves the understanding of the variations of the SPCZ on multiple time scales and reveals the variations of SPCZ strength not reported previously. The diagnostics analyses can be used to evaluate climate models to gauge their fidelity.

Corresponding author address: Autumn Kidwell, College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, 215 Robinson Hall, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716. E-mail: akidwell@udel.edu; xiaohai@udel.edu
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