The signature of the annular modes in the tropical troposphere

David W. J. Thompson, David J. Lorenz

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The extratropical annular modes are coupled with a distinct pattern of climate anomalies that spans the circulation of the tropical troposphere. The signature of the annular modes in the tropical troposphere exhibits a high degree of equatorial symmetry. It is associated with upper-tropospheric zonal wind anomalies centered about the equator, midtropospheric temperature anomalies located ∼20°N and 20°S, and opposing mean meridional circulation anomalies that span the subtropics of both hemispheres. The linkages between the annular modes and the tropical circulation are only evident during the cold season months, and are most robust in association with the Northern Hemisphere annular mode (NAM).

The coupling between the annular modes and the circulation of the tropical troposphere is consistent with forcing by waves originating at extratropical latitudes. Both annular modes are characterized by anomalies in the eddy momentum flux convergence at tropical latitudes that act to reinforce the changes in the tropical wind and temperature fields. The most pronounced tropical anomalies lag indices of the annular modes by ∼2 weeks and are found over the eastern tropical Pacific, where climatological westerlies permit extratropical waves to propagate into the deep Tropics. The linkages between the NAM and the tropical tropospheric circulation are most pronounced during the cold phase of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation cycle.

The recent trend in the NAM is linearly congruent with a ∼0.1-K cooling of the tropical troposphere over the past two decades during the Northern Hemisphere winter season.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4330–4342
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2004

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