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Baode Chen, Wen-wen Tung, and Michio Yanai


The authors examined the maintenance mechanisms of perturbation kinetic energy (PKE) in the tropical regions for multiple time scales by computing and analyzing its budget equation. The emphasis has been placed on the mean features of synoptic and subseasonal variabilities using a 33-yr dataset. From analysis of the contributions from u-wind and υ-wind components, the PKE maximum in the Indian Ocean is attributed less to synoptic variability and more to intraseasonal variability in which the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) dominates; however, there is strong evidence of seasonal variability affiliated with the Asian monsoon systems. The ones in the eastern Pacific and Atlantic Oceans are closely related to both intraseasonal and synoptic variability that result from the strong MJO and the relatively large amplitude of equatorial waves.

The maintenance of the PKE budget mainly depends on the structure of time mean horizontal flows, the location of convection, and the transport of PKE from the extratropics. In the regions with strong convective activities, such as the eastern Indian Ocean to the western Pacific, the production of PKE occurs between 700 and 200 hPa at the expense of perturbation available potential energy (PAPE), which is generated by convective heating. This gain in PKE is largely offset by divergence of the geopotential component of vertical energy flux; that is, it is redistributed to the upper- and lower-atmospheric layers by the pressure field. Strong PKE generation through the horizontal convergence of the extratropical energy flux takes place in the upper troposphere over the eastern Pacific and Atlantic Ocean, and is largely balanced by a PKE loss due to barotropic conversion, which is determined solely by the sign of longitudinal stretching deformation. However, over the Indian Ocean, there is a net PKE loss due to divergence of energy flux, which is compensated by PKE gain through the shear generation.

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