The Structure of Low Frequency Phenomena in the Tropics and Its Interaction with the Extratropics
- Manuscript received: 1992-01-10
- Manuscript revised: 1992-01-10
Abstract: The structure of planetary scale low frequency phenomena in the tropics is studied, and an attempt is made to de-termine its influence and interactions with phenomena at higher latitudes.In the tropics, it is found that the majority of the variance in the zonal wind structure is made up in wave num-bers 1 and 2. During warm events in the Pacific Ocean, when the Southern Oscillation Index is negative, almost all of the variance resides in the gravest mode which undergoes a 40o eastward phase shift. Meanwhile, the second logitudinal mode almost disappears. On the other hand, the meridional wind field possesses maximum amplitude at higher wave numbers. However, near the equator, the amplitude is small with extreme values occurring in the subtropics. The difference in scale and the location of extrema of the meridional and zonal wind components indicate that the tropical atmosphere is responding to two different driving mechanisms,Correlation analyses between variations of the zonal wind at reference points along the equator with variations of component elsewhere show that there are strong logitudinal connections. The strongest correlations between the tropics and higher latitudes exist in the region of the equatorial westerlies. In fact, stronger correlations occur between variations in U anywhere along the equator and the middle latitudes to the north and south of the equatorial wester-lies than to the latitudes immediately to the north and south of the reference points. We interpret this “remote” corre-lation pattern as indicating a two-stage teleconnection process which emphasizes the importance of the equatorial tropical westerlies of the Pacific Ocean as a “corridor” of communication between the low and high latitudes. The regionality of the correlations confirms, to some extent, recent theoretical development regarding trapped equatorial modes. Finally, time lagged correlations from plus and minus six months between variations of U and OLR indicate that the interactions between the extratropics and low latitudes possess an organized sequence. The extratropical in-fluence appears to propagate into the tropics followed by an eastward propagation along the equator. Finally, a propagation from the tropics to the extratropics in the upper troposphere occurs in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The time-lagged correlation sequence does not appear to be symmetric about the equator.