The South Atlantic Convergence Zone: Intensity, Form, Persistence, and Relationships with Intraseasonal to Interannual Activity and Extreme Rainfall

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

Charles Jones
Institute for Computational Earth System Science, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California

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

(Manuscript received 12 September 2002, in final form 7 July 2003)


The characteristics of intensity, geographical location, and persistence of the south Atlantic convergence zone (SACZ) during the austral summer are investigated. Intensity and spatial features of the SACZ are identified by performing a factor analysis of structural properties of outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) data. The first two leading factors explain 65% of the total variance of structural properties and characterize the SACZ according to intensity and location (oceanic vs continental). An index is constructed based on the magnitude of the factor scores to identify intense(weak) and oceanic (continental) SACZ. The intense SACZ category is associated with negative OLR anomalies over a large area of tropical South America, extending from the western Amazon to the Atlantic Ocean. The weak SACZ category is observed with positive OLR anomalies over tropical South America and negative OLR anomalies over southeastern South America. Oceanic and continental aspects of the SACZ are related to a midlatitude wave train pattern. The Madden-Julian oscillation (MJ0) modulates intense SACZ events with persistence longer then 3 days. Interannual variability of persistenct events indicates that the ratio of oceanic to continental SACZ as well as their frequency depends on the phase of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Occurrence of extreme rainfall in Brazil is discussed in the context of variations in the SACZ and MJO. Intense (weak) SACZ increases (decreases) the 95th daily rainfall percentile over central-eastern Brazil compared to the climatology. Oceanic (continental) SACZ increases (decreases) the 95th daily rainfall percentile over southeastern Brazil. The MJO phase characterized by suppression of convective activity over Indonesia and enhancement over the central Pacific increases the 95th daily rainfall percentile over north-northeastern Brazil, wheras opposite features are observed for the phase of the MJO characterized by the enhancement of convection over Indonesia and suppression over the central Pacific