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Hamid A. Pahlavan, Qiang Fu, and John M. Wallace


The temperature of Earth’s atmosphere has been monitored continuously since late 1978 by the Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) and the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) flown on polar-orbiting weather satellites. It is well known that these measurements are affected by the scattering and emission from hydrometeors, including cloud water, precipitation, and ice particles. In this study the hydrometeor effects on MSU/AMSU temperature observations are investigated by comparing satellite-observed temperature of the middle troposphere (TMT) with synthetic TMT constructed using temperature fields from ECMWF Interim [ERA-Interim (ERA-I)]. Precipitation data have been used to estimate how much of the difference between these two TMT fields is due to hydrometeor contamination effects. It is shown that there exists a robust linear proportionality between TMT deficit (i.e., the measured TMT minus the synthetic TMT) and precipitation at individual grid points in monthly mean fields. The linear correlation is even stronger in the annual mean and seasonally varying climatology and also in the spatial pattern of ENSO-related anomalies. The linear regression coefficient obtained in all of these analyses is virtually identical: −0.042 K (mm day−1)−1. The channel that senses lower-tropospheric temperature (TLT) is more sensitive to precipitation than the TMT channel: the regression coefficient is −0.059 K (mm day−1)−1. It is shown that correcting the TMT or TLT monthly anomalies by removing the hydrometeor contamination does not significantly influence estimates of tropical mean temperature trends, but it could affect the pattern of temperature trend over the tropical oceans.

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Hamid A. Pahlavan, Qiang Fu, John M. Wallace, and George N. Kiladis


The dynamics and momentum budget of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) are examined in ERA5. Because of ERA5’s higher spatial resolution compared to its predecessors, it is capable of resolving a broader spectrum of atmospheric waves and allows for a better representation of the wave–mean flow interactions, both of which are of crucial importance for QBO studies. It is shown that the QBO-induced mean meridional circulation, which is mainly confined to the winter hemisphere, is strong enough to interrupt the tropical upwelling during the descent of the westerly shear zones. Since the momentum advection tends to damp the QBO, the wave forcing is responsible for both the downward propagation and for the maintenance of the QBO. It is shown that half the required wave forcing is provided by resolved waves during the descent of both westerly and easterly regimes. Planetary-scale waves account for most of the resolved wave forcing of the descent of westerly shear zones and small-scale gravity (SSG) waves with wavelengths shorter than 2000 km account for the remainder. SSG waves account for most of the resolved forcing of the descent of the easterly shear zones. The representation of the mean fields in the QBO is very similar in ERA5 and ERA-Interim but the resolved wave forcing is substantially stronger in ERA5. The contributions of the various equatorially trapped wave modes to the QBO forcing are documented in Part II.

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Hamid A. Pahlavan, John M. Wallace, Qiang Fu, and George N. Kiladis


This paper describes stratospheric waves in ERA5 and evaluates the contributions of different types of waves to the driving of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO). Because of its higher spatial resolution compared to its predecessors, ERA5 is capable of resolving a broader spectrum of waves. It is shown that the resolved waves contribute to both eastward and westward accelerations near the equator, mainly by the way of the vertical flux of zonal momentum. The eastward accelerations by the resolved waves are mainly due to Kelvin waves and small-scale gravity (SSG) waves with zonal wavelengths smaller than 2000 km, whereas the westward accelerations are forced mainly by SSG waves, with smaller contributions from inertio-gravity and mixed Rossby–gravity waves. Extratropical Rossby waves disperse upward and equatorward into the tropical region and impart a westward acceleration to the zonal flow. They appear to be responsible for at least some of the irregularities in the QBO cycle.

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