Abstract

Within the tropical Pacific Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), organized cloud systems that evolve over synoptic time scales frequently propagate eastward and contribute significantly to the clouds and precipitation in that region. This study analyzes eastward propagating disturbances (EPDs) in the tropical Pacific during boreal winter (DJF) and spring (MAM) and their connection to Northern Hemisphere (NH) extratropical Rossby wave activity using cloud and precipitation fields from satellite and dynamical fields from reanalysis. During DJF, EPDs are located north of the ITCZ (around 15°N), propagate eastward at 10 m s−1 within the central Pacific, and exhibit high cloudiness associated with upper level divergence on the east side of NH Rossby waves propagating into the tropics. During MAM, EPDs initiate in the west Pacific and propagate along the ITCZ axis (around 7°N) into the east Pacific at 15 m s −1 where NH Rossby waves induce upper level divergence, enhancing their convective activity. The MAM EPDs are decidedly associated with Kelvin wave characteristics, while the DJF EPDs are not. The shallow meridional circulation (SMC) in the east Pacific is also studied in the context of EPDs. During DJF, EPDs do not impact the SMC, but the deep meridional circulation in the northern part of the ITCZ strengthens. During MAM, the shallow convection ahead of the EPDs enhances the SMC in the southern part of the ITCZ. These results distinguish between two types of EPDs during DJF and MAM that have different physical characteristics, forcing mechanisms, and regional impacts.