Local and remote atmospheric response to tropical instability waves: A global view from space

Hiroshi Hashizume, Shang Ping Xie, W. Timothy Liu, Kensuke Takeuchi

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127 Citations (Scopus)


A La Niña took place in the equatorial Pacific in 1999, and strong tropical instability waves (TIWs) developed, causing large meanders of a sea surface temperature (SST) front between the equator and 3°N. High-resolution satellite measurements are used to describe the variability of SST, surface wind velocity, column-integrated water vapor, cloud liquid water, and precipitation associated with these strong TIWs in 1999. Coherent ocean-atmosphere patterns emerge in both the Pacific and Atlantic, revealing rich regional characteristics. In the far eastern Pacific, southeasterly trades strengthen (weaken) over positive (negative) SST anomalies, apparently due to enhanced (reduced) mixing with high-speed winds aloft. In the central Pacific we find evidence that SST-induced sea level pressure changes also contribute substantially to wind fluctuations. Similar SST-wind covariability also exists in the Southern Hemisphere along 2°S, but the wind variability induced by unit SST anomaly is much larger than that north of the equator. In the central Pacific where the equatorial front is broad, the northern SST pattern has a large meridional scale and reaches as far north as 6°N. Further to the north in the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) where local SST anomalies are small, significant variability is found in clouds and precipitation, which is further correlated with surface wind convergence. In the Atlantic, TIW signals in SST are strongly trapped near the equator, but they induce significant remote response in the ITCZ, which takes a more southern position than its Pacific counterpart and thus more susceptible to TIW influence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2000JD900684
Pages (from-to)10173-10185
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue numberD10
Publication statusPublished - 2001 May 27

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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