Adjustment of the atmospheric circulation to tropical Pacific SST anomalies: Variability of transient eddy propagation in the Pacific–North America sector

Seager, Richard; Naik, Naomi H.; Ting, Mingfang; Cane, Mark A.; Harnik, Nili; Kushnir, Yochanan

El Nin ̃o–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) related precipitation anomalies in North America are related to changes in the paths of storm systems across the Pacific Ocean, with a more southern route into southwestern North America during El Nin ̃os and a more northern route into the Pacific Northwest during La Ninas. Daily reanalysis data are analyzed to confirm these changes. Seasonal mean upper tropospheric eddy statistics show, for El Ninos (La Ninas), a pattern that is shifted southward (northward) compared with climatology. Paths of coherent phase propagation of transient eddies and of the propagation of wave packets are analyzed. A coherent path of propagation across the Pacific towards North America is identified that is more zonal during El Nin ̃o winters and, during La Ninas, has a dominant path heading northeastward to the Pacific Northwest. A second path heading southeastward from the central Pacific to the tropical east Pacific is more accentuated during La Ninas than El Ninos. These changes in wave propagation are reproduced in an ensemble of seasonal integrations of a general circulation model forced by a tropical Pacific sea-surface temperature pattern, confirming that the changes are forced by changes in the mean atmospheric state arising from changes in tropical sea-surface temperature. A simplified model with a specified basic state is used to model the storm tracks for El Nino and La Nina winters. The results suggest that the changes in transient eddy propagation and the eddy statistics can be understood in terms oftherefractionoftransienteddieswithindifferentbasicstates.


Also Published In

Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
Published Here
July 19, 2021