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Ryoo J.-M., Y. Kaspi, D. W. Waugh, G. N. Kiladis, et al. (September 2013): Impact of Rossby Wave Breaking on U.S. West Coast Winter Precipitation during ENSO Events. J. Climate, 26 (17), 6360-6382. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00297.1

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This study demonstrates that water vapor transport and precipitation are largely modulated by the intensity of the subtropical jet, transient eddies, and the location of wave breaking events during the different phases of ENSO. Clear differences are found in the potential vorticity (PV), meteorological fields, and trajectory pathways between the two different phases. Rossby wave breaking events have cyclonic and anticyclonic regimes, with associated differences in the frequency of occurrence and the dynamic response. During La Niña, there is a relatively weak subtropical jet allowing PV to intrude into lower latitudes over the western United States. This induces a large amount of moisture transport inland ahead of the PV intrusions, as well as northward transport to the west of a surface anticyclone. During El Niño, the subtropical jet is relatively strong and is associated with an enhanced cyclonic wave breaking. This is accompanied by a time-mean surface cyclone, which brings zonal moisture transport to the western United States. In both (El Niño and La Niña) phases, there is a high correlation (>0.3–0.7) between upper-level PV at 250 hPa and precipitation over the west coast of the United States with a time lag of 0–1 days. Vertically integrated water vapor fluxes during El Niño are up to 70 kg m−1 s−1 larger than those during La Niña along the west coast of the United States. The zonal and meridional moist static energy flux resembles wave vapor transport patterns, suggesting that they are closely controlled by the large-scale flows and location of wave breaking events during the different phase of ENSO.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: PSD Publications
Divisions: Physical Sciences Division
DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00297.1