Vertical Structure and Interannual Variability of Tropical Zonal Winds

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  • 1 Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts
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Abstract

Geographical and seasonal variations of the variance and vertical structure of interannual anomalies of seasonally averaged zonal winds are calculated from rawinsonde records at tropical stations between 80°E and 140°W, the longitudes spanned by the “Walker Circulation.” Wind anomalies are negatively correlated in the upper and lower troposphere only in a latitude band within about 10° of the equator, defining the latitudinal extent of the Walker Circulation; about 70% of the interannual variance of tropospheric zonal winds is accounted for by a single vertical mode within this band. The band shifts seasonally north and south slightly, in conjunction with seasonal shifts in large-scale convection. The level of zonal overturning occurs between 300 and 500 mb, and is highest near the seasonal convective maximum. Other vertical structures, suggestive of interannual variability not associated with thermally forced circulations, are also found near the equator at some longitudes in the boreal winter season.

Abstract

Geographical and seasonal variations of the variance and vertical structure of interannual anomalies of seasonally averaged zonal winds are calculated from rawinsonde records at tropical stations between 80°E and 140°W, the longitudes spanned by the “Walker Circulation.” Wind anomalies are negatively correlated in the upper and lower troposphere only in a latitude band within about 10° of the equator, defining the latitudinal extent of the Walker Circulation; about 70% of the interannual variance of tropospheric zonal winds is accounted for by a single vertical mode within this band. The band shifts seasonally north and south slightly, in conjunction with seasonal shifts in large-scale convection. The level of zonal overturning occurs between 300 and 500 mb, and is highest near the seasonal convective maximum. Other vertical structures, suggestive of interannual variability not associated with thermally forced circulations, are also found near the equator at some longitudes in the boreal winter season.

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