Previous theoretical work has suggested that the strength of the divergent eddy momentum flux in the deep tropics, due to correlations between rotational zonal velocities and divergent meridional velocities, increases with the meridional tilt of the large-scale divergence field. To test that idea, this work investigates the interannual variability of the divergent eddy momentum flux in reanalysis data. Consistent with the theory, it is found that the eddy momentum flux variability is driven by two main parameters: the amplitude of the tropical stationary wave and the tilt of the divergence field. Together, these two parameters account for 80% (90%) of the interannual eddy momentum flux variance during boreal (austral) winter. The interannual variability of these parameters is governed by the internal atmospheric dynamics. During boreal winter, interannual changes in MJO variability explain nearly half of the interannual variance in the stationary wave amplitude, depending on whether on average MJO anomalies interfere constructively or destructively with the stationary wave. The interannual variability of the divergence phase tilt is modulated by tropical-extratropical interactions in the Pacific. The tilt increases during the negative phase of the West Pacific Oscillation, associated with a dipole of upper-level divergence (convergence) on the northern (southern) side of the Pacific jet exit region.

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