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Gui-Ying Yang and Brian Hoskins

Abstract

The impact of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on atmospheric Kelvin waves and associated tropical convection is investigated using the ECMWF Re-Analysis, NOAA outgoing longwave radiation (OLR), and the analysis technique introduced in a previous study. It is found that the phase of ENSO has a substantial impact on Kelvin waves and associated convection over the equatorial central-eastern Pacific. El Niño (La Niña) events enhance (suppress) variability of the upper-tropospheric Kelvin wave and the associated convection there, in both extended boreal winter and summer.

The mechanism of the impact is through changes in the ENSO-related thermal conditions and the ambient flow. In El Niño years, because of SST increase in the equatorial central-eastern Pacific, variability of eastward-moving convection, which is mainly associated with Kelvin waves, intensifies in the region. In addition, owing to the weakening of the equatorial eastern Pacific westerly duct in the upper troposphere in El Niño years, Kelvin waves amplify there. In La Niña years, the opposite occurs. However, the stronger westerly duct in La Niña winters allows more NH extratropical Rossby wave activity to propagate equatorward and force Kelvin waves around 200 hPa, partially offsetting the in situ weakening effect of the stronger westerlies on the waves. In general, in El Niño years Kelvin waves are more convectively and vertically coupled and propagate more upward into the lower stratosphere over the central-eastern Pacific.

The ENSO impact in other regions is not clear, although in winter over the eastern Indian and western Pacific Oceans Kelvin waves and their associated convection are slightly weaker in El Niño than in La Niña years.

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Gui-Ying Yang and Julia Slingo

Abstract

A global archive of high-resolution (3-hourly, 0.5° latitude–longitude grid) window (11–12 μm) brightness temperature (T b) data from multiple satellites is being developed by the European Union Cloud Archive User Service (CLAUS) project. It has been used to construct a climatology of the diurnal cycle in convection, cloudiness, and surface temperature for all regions of the Tropics. An example of the application of the climatology to the evaluation of the climate version of the U.K. Met. Office Unified Model (UM), version HadAM3, is presented.

The characteristics of the diurnal cycle described by the CLAUS data agree with previous observational studies, demonstrating the universality of the characteristics of the diurnal cycle for land versus ocean, clear sky versus convective regimes. It is shown that oceanic deep convection tends to reach its maximum in the early morning. Continental convection generally peaks in the evening, although there are interesting regional variations, indicative of the effects of complex land–sea and mountain–valley breezes, as well as the life cycle of mesoscale convective systems. A striking result from the analysis of the CLAUS data has been the extent to which the strong diurnal signal over land is spread out over the adjacent oceans, probably through gravity waves of varying depths. These coherent signals can be seen for several hundred kilometers and in some instances, such as over the Bay of Bengal, can lead to substantial diurnal variations in convection and precipitation.

The example of the use of the CLAUS data in the evaluation of the Met. Office UM has demonstrated that the model has considerable difficulty in capturing the observed phase of the diurnal cycle in convection, which suggests some fundamental difficulties in the model’s physical parameterizations. Analysis of the diurnal cycle represents a powerful tool for identifying and correcting model deficiencies.

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Gui-Ying Yang, Brian Hoskins, and Julia Slingo

Abstract

Building on Parts I and II of this study, the structures of eastward- and westward-moving convectively coupled equatorial waves are examined through synthesis of projections onto standard equatorial wave horizontal structures. The interaction between these equatorial wave components and their evolution are investigated. It is shown that the total eastward-moving fields and their coupling with equatorial convection closely resemble the standard Kelvin wave in the lower troposphere, with intensified convection in phase with anomalous westerlies in the Eastern Hemisphere (EH) and with anomalous convergence in the Western Hemisphere (WH). However, in the upper troposphere, the total fields show a mixture of the Kelvin wave and higher (n = 0 and 1) wave structures, with strong meridional wind and its divergence. The equatorial total fields show what may be described as a modified first internal Kelvin wave vertical structure in the EH, with a tilt in the vertical and a third peak in the midtroposphere. There is evidence that the EH midtropospheric Kelvin wave is closely associated with SH extratropical eastward-moving wave activity, the vertical velocity associated with the wave activity stretching into the equatorial region in the mid–upper troposphere. The midtropospheric zonal wind and geopotential height show a pattern that may be associated with a forced wave.

The westward-moving fields associated with off-equatorial convection show very different behaviors between the EH midsummer and the WH transition seasons. In the EH midsummer, the total fields have a baroclinic structure, with the off-equatorial convection in phase with relatively warm air, suggesting convective forcing of the dynamical fields. The total structures exhibit a mixture of the n = 0, 1 components, with the former dominating to the east of convection and the latter to the west of convection. The n = 0 component is found to be closely connected to the lower-level n = 1 Rossby (R1) wave that appears earlier and seems to provide organization for the convection, which in turn forces the n = 0 wave. In the WH transition season the total fields have a barotropic structure and are dominated by the R1 wave. There is evidence that this barotropic R1 wave, as well as the associated tropical convection, is forced by the NH upper-tropospheric extratropical Rossby wave activity. In the EH, westward-moving lower-level wind structures associated with equatorial convection resemble the R1 wave, with equatorial westerlies in phase with the intensified convection. However, westward-moving n = −1 and n = 0 structures are also involved.

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Gui-Ying Yang, Brian Hoskins, and Julia Slingo

Abstract

Multilevel 15-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-15) and satellite-observed brightness temperature (Tb) data for the period May–October 1992 are used to examine the horizontal and vertical structures of convectively coupled equatorial waves. Dynamical waves are isolated using a methodology developed previously. Composite structures of convectively coupled equatorial waves are obtained using linear regression/correlation between convection (Tb) and dynamical structures. It is found that the relationship depends on the ambient flow and the nature of the convective coupling, and varies between off-equatorial- and equatorial-centered convection, different hemispheres, and seasons.

The Kelvin wave structure in the Western Hemisphere is generally consistent with classic equatorial wave theory and has its convection located in the region of low-level convergence. In the Eastern Hemisphere the Kelvin wave tends to have convection in the region of enhanced lower-tropospheric westerlies and a tilted vertical structure. The Kelvin wave also tends to have a third peak in zonal wind amplitude at 500 hPa and exhibits upward propagation into the lower stratosphere. Lower-tropospheric westward-moving mixed Rossby–gravity (WMRG) and n = 1 Rossby (R1) wave structures and their relationship with convection are consistent with classic equatorial wave theory and the implied lower-tropospheric convergences. In the Eastern Hemisphere the WMRG and R1 waves have first baroclinic mode structures in the vertical. However, in the Western Hemisphere, the R1 wave has a barotropic structure. In the Eastern Hemisphere the R1 wave, like the Kelvin wave, tends to have equatorial convection in the region of enhanced lower-level westerlies, suggesting that enhanced surface energy fluxes associated with these waves may play an important organizing role for equatorial convection in this warm-water hemisphere.

In the upper troposphere, eastward-moving Rossby–gravity (EMRG) and n = 1 gravity waves are found in the Eastern Hemisphere, and eastward-moving WMRG and R1 waves are found in the Western Hemisphere, suggestive of Doppler shifting of waves by the ambient flow.

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Gui-Ying Yang, Julia Slingo, and Brian Hoskins

Abstract

A methodology for diagnosing convectively coupled equatorial waves is applied to output from two high-resolution versions of atmospheric models, the Hadley Centre Atmospheric Model, version 3 (HadAM3), and the new Hadley Centre Global Atmospheric Model, version 1 (HadGAM1), which have fundamental differences in dynamical formulation. Variability, horizontal and vertical structures, and propagation characteristics of tropical convection and equatorial waves, along with their coupled behavior in the models, are examined and evaluated against a previous comprehensive study of observed convectively coupled equatorial waves using the 15-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-15) and satellite observed data. The extent to which the models are able to represent the coupled waves found in real atmospheric observations is investigated. It is shown that, in general, the models perform well for equatorial waves coupled with off-equatorial convection. However, they perform poorly for waves coupled with equatorial convection. Convection in both models contains much-reduced variance in equatorial regions, but reasonable off-equatorial variance.

The models fail to simulate coupling of the waves with equatorial convection and the tendency for equatorial convection to appear in the region of wave-enhanced near-surface westerlies. In addition, the simulated Kelvin wave and its associated convection generally tend to have lower frequency and slower phase speed than that observed. The models are also not able to capture the observed vertical tilt structure and signatures of energy conversion in the Kelvin wave, particularly in HadAM3. On the other hand, models perform better in simulating westward-moving waves coupled with off-equatorial convection, in terms of horizontal and vertical structures, zonal propagation, and energy conversion signals. In most cases both models fail to simulate well a key picture emerging from the observations, that some wave modes in the lower troposphere can act as a forcing agent for equatorial convection, and that the upper-tropospheric waves generally appear to be forced by the convection both on and off the equator.

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Gui-Ying Yang and Brian J. Hoskins

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The propagation of Rossby waves of positive and negative frequency, corresponding to eastward and westward phase speeds, respectively, is investigated. The techniques used are theoretical analysis, ray tracing, and initial value problems in barotropic and baroclinic numerical models. The basic states considered are a superrotation flow and December–February climatological zonally symmetric and zonally asymmetric flows. It is found that positive and negative frequency Rossby waves can differ significantly from each other and from stationary, zero frequency Rossby waves in many aspects. Negative frequency waves tend to have larger total wavelengths and increased meridional group velocities. Enhanced meridional propagation and, indeed, cross-equatorial propagation are found for westward moving sources in both barotropic and baroclinic models. However, general deductions from studies of stationary Rossby waves, such as the existence of subtropical jet waveguides, are still found to be valid.

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Brian J. Hoskins and Gui-Ying Yang

Abstract

The classic view, following Charney and Webster and Holton, is that significant midlatitude forcing of the Tropics can be expected only in regions with westerly winds in the upper troposphere because it is only in these regions that stationary Rossby waves will be able to propagate toward the equator. Here it is shown that higher-latitude forcing can project directly onto equatorial waves and give a significant tropical response in both easterly and westerly tropical flow.

The equatorial response to higher-latitude forcing is considered in the context of a dry atmosphere and a localized higher-latitude forcing with eastward or westward phase speed. Previous ideas of the Doppler shifting of equatorial waves by zonal flows are extended to include consideration of a forcing involving a range of zonal wavenumbers. A Gill-type model suggests that there can be significant forcing of equatorial waves by either vorticity forcing or heating in higher latitudes. In agreement with the theory, the Kelvin wave response to eastward forcing is peaked at high frequencies/short periods but reduces only slowly with decreasing frequency. Primitive-equation experiments confirm the strong equatorial response associated with a deep Kelvin wave for forcing in midlatitudes. The response is strongest in the Eastern Hemisphere with its equatorial, upper-tropospheric easterlies. The possible importance of this equatorial response in the organization of large-scale, deep tropical convection and the initiation of the Madden–Julian oscillation is discussed. The ability of westward forcing in higher latitudes to trigger Rossby–gravity and Rossby waves is found in the primitive-equation model to be significant but rather less robust. These wave signatures are clearest in the lower troposphere. For shorter periods the Rossby–gravity wave dominates, and for upper-tropospheric forcing, downward and eastward wave activity propagation is seen. Upper-tropospheric westerlies are found to enhance the response.

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Brian J. Hoskins and Gui-Ying Yang

Abstract

The general 1D theory of waves propagating on a zonally varying flow is developed from basic wave theory, and equations are derived for the variation of wavenumber and energy along ray paths. Different categories of behavior are found, depending on the sign of the group velocity c g and a wave property B. For B positive, the wave energy and the wavenumber vary in the same sense, with maxima in relative easterlies or westerlies, depending on the sign of c g. Also the wave accumulation of Webster and Chang occurs where c g goes to zero. However, for B negative, they behave in opposite senses and wave accumulation does not occur. The zonal propagation of the gravest equatorial waves is analyzed in detail using the theory. For nondispersive Kelvin waves, B reduces to 2, and an analytic solution is possible. For all the waves considered, B is positive, except for the westward-moving mixed Rossby–gravity (WMRG) wave, which can have negative B as well as positive B.

Comparison is made between the observed climatologies of the individual equatorial waves and the result of pure propagation on the climatological upper-tropospheric flow. The Kelvin wave distribution is in remarkable agreement, considering the approximations made. Some aspects of the WMRG and Rossby wave distributions are also in qualitative agreement. However, the observed maxima in these waves in the winter westerlies in the eastern Pacific and Atlantic Oceans are generally not in accord with the theory. This is consistent with the importance of the sources of equatorial waves in these westerly duct regions due to higher-latitude wave activity.

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Gui-Ying Yang, Brian Hoskins, and Julia Slingo

Abstract

Convectively coupled equatorial waves are fundamental components of the interaction between the physics and dynamics of the tropical atmosphere. A new methodology, which isolates individual equatorial wave modes, has been developed and applied to observational data. The methodology assumes that the horizontal structures given by equatorial wave theory can be used to project upper- and lower-tropospheric data onto equatorial wave modes. The dynamical fields are first separated into eastward- and westward-moving components with a specified domain of frequency–zonal wavenumber. Each of the components for each field is then projected onto the different equatorial modes using the y structures of these modes given by the theory. The latitudinal scale y o of the modes is predetermined by data to fit the equatorial trapping in a suitable latitude belt y = ±Y. The extent to which the different dynamical fields are consistent with one another in their depiction of each equatorial wave structure determines the confidence in the reality of that structure. Comparison of the analyzed modes with the eastward- and westward-moving components in the convection field enables the identification of the dynamical structure and nature of convectively coupled equatorial waves.

In a case study, the methodology is applied to two independent data sources, ECMWF Reanalysis and satellite-observed window brightness temperature (T b) data for the summer of 1992. Various convectively coupled equatorial Kelvin, mixed Rossby–gravity, and Rossby waves have been detected. The results indicate a robust consistency between the two independent data sources. Different vertical structures for different wave modes and a significant Doppler shifting effect of the background zonal winds on wave structures are found and discussed.

It is found that in addition to low-level convergence, anomalous fluxes induced by strong equatorial zonal winds associated with equatorial waves are important for inducing equatorial convection. There is evidence that equatorial convection associated with Rossby waves leads to a change in structure involving a horizontal structure similar to that of a Kelvin wave moving westward with it. The vertical structure may also be radically changed.

The analysis method should make a very powerful diagnostic tool for investigating convectively coupled equatorial waves and the interaction of equatorial dynamics and physics in the real atmosphere. The results from application of the analysis method for a reanalysis dataset should provide a benchmark against which model studies can be compared.

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Gui-Ying Yang, Brian Hoskins, and Julia Slingo

Abstract

Following the description of the horizontal and vertical structures of convectively coupled equatorial waves presented in Part I, here their propagation characteristics are investigated. Linear lagged regressions are used to produce their composite evolution, and the Radon transform technique is used to calculate their phase speeds. It is shown that coherent wave structures with convective coupling generally exist for about 1–2 weeks. Typical zonal wavenumbers are 6–8, wavelengths are 42°–64° of longitude, and typical periods are 4–8 days. The eastward phase speed of convectively coupled Kelvin waves is between 10 and 17 m s−1. The westward phase speed of the coupled mixed Rossby–gravity wave is between 10 and 15 m s−1, and the westward phase speed of the coupled n = 1 Rossby wave is between 7 and 9 m s−1. It is found that convection can produce stronger vertical coupling of phase speeds, and Doppler shifting by the ambient flow can modify phase speeds. There is further evidence that some waves tend to act as forcing agents for convection whereas others tend to be forced by convection. Eastward propagation of some n = 0 and 1 modes in the upper troposphere is also examined.

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