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Richter, I, Xie SP, Morioka Y, Doi T, Taguchi B, Behera S.  2017.  Phase locking of equatorial Atlantic variability through the seasonal migration of the ITCZ. Climate Dynamics. 48:3615-3629.   10.1007/s00382-016-3289-y   AbstractWebsite

The equatorial Atlantic is marked by significant interannual variability in sea-surface temperature (SST) that is phase-locked to late boreal spring and early summer. The role of the atmosphere in this phase locking is examined using observations, reanalysis data, and model output. The results show that equatorial zonal surface wind anomalies, which are a main driver of warm and cold events, typically start decreasing in June, despite SST and sea-level pressure gradient anomalies being at their peak during this month. This behavior is explained by the seasonal northward migration of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) in early summer. The north-equatorial position of the Atlantic ITCZ contributes to the decay of wind anomalies in three ways: (1) horizontal advection associated with the cross-equatorial winds transports air masses of comparatively low zonal momentum anomalies from the southeast toward the equator. (2) The absence of deep convection leads to changes in vertical momentum transport that reduce the equatorial wind anomalies at the surface, while anomalies aloft remain relatively strong. (3) The cross-equatorial flow is associated with increased total wind speed, which increases surface drag and deposit of momentum into the ocean. Previous studies have shown that convection enhances the surface wind response to SST anomalies. The present study indicates that convection also amplifies the surface zonal wind response to sea-level pressure gradients in the western equatorial Atlantic, where SST anomalies are small. This introduces a new element into coupled air-sea interaction of the tropical Atlantic.

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Xie, SP, Peng QH, Kamae Y, Zheng XT, Tokinaga H, Wang DX.  2018.  Eastern Pacific ITCZ Dipole and ENSO Diversity. Journal of Climate. 31:4449-4462.   10.1175/jcli-d-17-0905.1   AbstractWebsite

The eastern tropical Pacific features strong climatic asymmetry across the equator, with the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) displaced north of the equator most of time. In February- April (FMA), the seasonal warming in the Southern Hemisphere and cooling in the Northern Hemisphere weaken the climatic asymmetry, and a double ITCZ appears with a zonal rainband on either side of the equator. Results from an analysis of precipitation variability reveal that the relative strength between the northern and southern ITCZ varies from one year to another and this meridional seesaw results from ocean-atmosphere coupling. Surprisingly this meridional seesaw is triggered by an El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) of moderate amplitudes. Although ENSO is originally symmetric about the equator, the asymmetry in the mean climate in the preceding season introduces asymmetric perturbations, which are then preferentially amplified by coupled ocean-atmosphere feedback in FMA when deep convection is sensitive to small changes in cross-equatorial gradient of sea surface temperature. This study shows that moderate ENSO follows a distinct decay trajectory in FMA and southeasterly cross-equatorial wind anomalies cause moderate El Nino to dissipate rapidly as southeasterly cross-equatorial wind anomalies intensify ocean upwelling south of the equator. In contrast, extreme El Nino remains strong through FMA as enhanced deep convection causes westerly wind anomalies to intrude and suppress ocean upwelling in the eastern equatorial Pacific.

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Zhou, ZQ, Zhang RH, Xie SP.  2019.  Interannual variability of summer surface air temperature over central India: Implications for monsoon onset. Journal of Climate. 32:1693-1706.   10.1175/jcli-d-18-0675.1   AbstractWebsite

Year-to-year variability of surface air temperature (SAT) over central India is most pronounced in June. Climatologically over central India, SAT peaks in May, and the transition from the hot premonsoon to the cooler monsoon period takes place around 9 June, associated with the northeastward propagation of intraseasonal convective anomalies from the western equatorial Indian Ocean. Positive (negative) SAT anomalies during June correspond to a delayed (early) Indian summer monsoon onset and tend to occur during post-El Nino summers. On the interannual time scale, positive SAT anomalies of June over central India are associated with positive SST anomalies over both the equatorial eastern-central Pacific and Indian Oceans, representing El Nino effects in developing and decay years, respectively. Although El Nino peaks in winter, the correlations between winter El Nino and Indian SAT peak in the subsequent June, representing a post-El Nino summer capacitor effect associated with positive SST anomalies over the north Indian Ocean. These results have important implications for the prediction of Indian summer climate including both SAT and summer monsoon onset over central India.