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The Impact of the Andes on Transient Atmospheric Systems: A Comparison between Observations and GCM Results

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  • 1 Centro de Investigaciones del Mar y la Atmosfera, CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • | 2 Laboratoire de Meteorologie Dynamique, CNRS, Paris, France
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Abstract

The high and low pressure transient systems that cross the Andes at various extratropical latitudes are strongly affected by this natural barrier. Available analysis from operational weather services, such as the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), provide a description of these migrating systems, which are often associated with regional features of orographic origin, such as the Northwestern Argentinean Depression. Their propagation is subject to a particularity: for distinct reasons both low and high pressure systems are commonly deflected to the north when crossing the Andes. The purpose of the paper is to test the ability of an atmospheric general circulation model, the LMD (Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique) GCM, to simulate correctly the behavior of these systems. This is done through the analysis of conventional meteorological parameters, but also by duplicating, from the output fields of the model, a series of composite analyses that were previously carried out using both the ECMWF analysis and measurements at local weather stations. The model appears generally successful in reproducing the large-scale features of the circulation. The precipitation patterns are less realistic: they extend too broadly over the eastern side of the mountains, with too little precipitation along the Atlantic coast. Sensitivity experiments are carried out to test the impact of the orography and the role of the model resolution. An experiment with enhanced, and probably more realistic, orography, gives much improved results. An experiment with a lower model resolution shows a degraded but persistent skill in reproducing the observed pattern.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Hervé Le Treut, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, 24, rue Lhomond, 75231 Cedex 05, Paris, France.

Abstract

The high and low pressure transient systems that cross the Andes at various extratropical latitudes are strongly affected by this natural barrier. Available analysis from operational weather services, such as the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), provide a description of these migrating systems, which are often associated with regional features of orographic origin, such as the Northwestern Argentinean Depression. Their propagation is subject to a particularity: for distinct reasons both low and high pressure systems are commonly deflected to the north when crossing the Andes. The purpose of the paper is to test the ability of an atmospheric general circulation model, the LMD (Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique) GCM, to simulate correctly the behavior of these systems. This is done through the analysis of conventional meteorological parameters, but also by duplicating, from the output fields of the model, a series of composite analyses that were previously carried out using both the ECMWF analysis and measurements at local weather stations. The model appears generally successful in reproducing the large-scale features of the circulation. The precipitation patterns are less realistic: they extend too broadly over the eastern side of the mountains, with too little precipitation along the Atlantic coast. Sensitivity experiments are carried out to test the impact of the orography and the role of the model resolution. An experiment with enhanced, and probably more realistic, orography, gives much improved results. An experiment with a lower model resolution shows a degraded but persistent skill in reproducing the observed pattern.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Hervé Le Treut, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, 24, rue Lhomond, 75231 Cedex 05, Paris, France.

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