Oceanic Rossby waves induced by the meridional shift of the ITCZ in association with ENSO events

Hiroto Abe, Youichi Tanimoto, Takuya Hasegawa, Naoto Ebuchi, Kimio Hanawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated the eastern Pacific Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) as an atmospheric forcing to the ocean by using various observed and reanalysis data sets over 29 years. Climatologically, a zonal band of positive wind stress curl (WSC) with a 10° meridional width was exhibited along the ITCZ. A southward shift of the positive WSC band during the El Niño phase induced a negative (positive) WSC anomaly along the northern (southern) portion of the ITCZ, and vice versa during the La Niña phase. This meridional dipole accounted for more than 25 % of interannual variances of the WSC anomalies (WSCAs), based on analysis of the period 1993-2008. The negative (positive) WSCA in the northern portion of the ITCZ during the El Niño (La Niña) phase was collocated with a positive (negative) sea surface height anomaly (SSHA) that propagated westward as a Rossby wave all the way to the western North Pacific. This finding indicates that this off-equatorial Rossby wave is induced by the WSCA around the ITCZ. Our analysis of a 1.5-layer reduced gravity model revealed that the Rossby waves are mostly explained by wind stress forcing, rather than by reflection of an equatorial Kelvin wave on the eastern coastal boundary. The off-equatorial Rossby wave had the same SSHA polarity as the equatorial Kelvin wave, and generation of a phase-preserving Rossby wave without the Kelvin wave reflection was explained by meridional movement of the ITCZ. Thus, the ITCZ acts as an atmospheric bridge that connects the equatorial and off-equatorial oceanic waves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-174
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Oceanography
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Apr


  • ENSO
  • ITCZ
  • Meridional migration
  • Rossby wave
  • Wind stress curl

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


Dive into the research topics of 'Oceanic Rossby waves induced by the meridional shift of the ITCZ in association with ENSO events'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this