ABSTRACT


Subseasonal Variations of Rainfall in South America in the Vicinity of the Low-Level Jet East of the Andes and Comparison to Those in the South Atlantic Convergence Zone

Brant Liebmann
NOAA-CIRES Climate Diagnostics Center, Boulder, Colorado

Leila M.V. Carvalho
Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

George Kiladis
NOAA Aeronomy Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado

Carolina S. Vera and A. Celeste Saulo
Centro de Investigaciones del Mar y la Atmósfera/CONICET, Departamento de Ciencias de la Atmósfera y los Océanos, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Leila M.V. Carvalho
Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

(Manuscript received 16 January 2003, in final form 20 February 2004)

Abstract

Regional and large-scale circulation anomalies associated with variations in rainfall downstream of the South American low-level jet are identified and compared to those in the South Atlantic convergence zone (SACZ). Composites of precipitation associated with strong jets reveal an approximate doubling of the quantities one would expect from climatology, with an evolution of the rainfall pattern from south to north. The occurrence of extreme precipitation events follows a similar pattern. Meridional cross-sections of composite wind reveal a distinct low-level jet near 20°S and a baroclinic development farther south, which appears to force the jet. Geopotential height, temperature, and large-scale wind composites suggest that this developing disturbance is tied to a wave train that originates in the midlatitude Pacific and turns equatorward as it crosses the Andes. Similar composites based on SACZ rainfall reveal similar features, but of opposite sign, suggesting that the phase of the wave as it crosses the Andes Mountains determines whether rainfall will be enhanced downstream of the jet or in the SACZ. The alternate suppression or enhancement of rainfall in these adjacent regions results in a precipitation 'dipole.' Many previous studies have found a similar out of phase relationship over many time scales. The phase of the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO) is composited relative to anomalous precipitation events, revealing statistically relevant amplitudes associated with rainfall both downstream of the jet and in the SACZ. The MJO is a particularly interesting intraseasonal oscillation because it has some predictability. It is speculated that the slowly-varying dipole that has been observed is a consequence of the preferred phasing of synoptic waves due to variations of the planetary scale basic-state flow, which is at times associated with the MJO.