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A Study of the Possible Statistical Relationship between the Tropical Pacific Sea Surface Temperature and Atmospheric Circulation

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu 96822
  • | 2 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80307
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Abstract

Atmospheric wind data obtained from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and from the National Meteorological Center together with sea surface temperature (SST) data at Puerto Chicama (7°42′S, 79°27′W) and Koko Head (21°18′N, 157°52′W) for the period May 1958 to September 1973 were used to test Bjerknes' hypothesis that, through the mechanism of momentum transport, fluctuations of SST in the equatorial eastern Pacific influence the subtropical and middle-latitude atmospheric circulations. Lag cross-correlation coefficients were calculated from the data and their statistical significance tested. The results, confirming earlier work, support the portion of his hypothesis regarding the influence of the equatorial eastern Pacific in the higher latitude atmospheric circulation, but do not support the portion of it suggesting that momentum transport is the agent transmitting the influence.

Abstract

Atmospheric wind data obtained from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and from the National Meteorological Center together with sea surface temperature (SST) data at Puerto Chicama (7°42′S, 79°27′W) and Koko Head (21°18′N, 157°52′W) for the period May 1958 to September 1973 were used to test Bjerknes' hypothesis that, through the mechanism of momentum transport, fluctuations of SST in the equatorial eastern Pacific influence the subtropical and middle-latitude atmospheric circulations. Lag cross-correlation coefficients were calculated from the data and their statistical significance tested. The results, confirming earlier work, support the portion of his hypothesis regarding the influence of the equatorial eastern Pacific in the higher latitude atmospheric circulation, but do not support the portion of it suggesting that momentum transport is the agent transmitting the influence.

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