Evaporation-Wind Feedback and Low-Frequency Variability in the Tropical Atmosphere

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  • 1 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Program, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08542
  • | 2 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory/NOAA, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08542
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Abstract

A mechanism by which feedback between zonal wind perturbations and evaporation can create unstable, low-frequency modes in a simple two-layer model of the tropical troposphere is presented. The modes resemble the 30–50 day oscillation. A series of general circulation model experiments designed to test the effect of suppressing this feedback on low-frequency variability in the model tropics is described. The results suggest that the evaporation-wind feedback can be important to the amplitude of the spectral peak corresponding to the 30–50 day oscillation in the model, but that the existence of the oscillation does not depend on it. The feedback is found to have a much more dramatic effect on low-frequency variability when sea surface temperatures are fixed than when the lower boundary is a zero heat capacity “swamp”.

Abstract

A mechanism by which feedback between zonal wind perturbations and evaporation can create unstable, low-frequency modes in a simple two-layer model of the tropical troposphere is presented. The modes resemble the 30–50 day oscillation. A series of general circulation model experiments designed to test the effect of suppressing this feedback on low-frequency variability in the model tropics is described. The results suggest that the evaporation-wind feedback can be important to the amplitude of the spectral peak corresponding to the 30–50 day oscillation in the model, but that the existence of the oscillation does not depend on it. The feedback is found to have a much more dramatic effect on low-frequency variability when sea surface temperatures are fixed than when the lower boundary is a zero heat capacity “swamp”.

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