Interannual variation of atmospheric mass and the southern oscillation

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Chen, Tsing-Chang ; Chen, Jau-Ming ; Schubert, Siegfried (2011)

Two reanalysis datasets, one generated by the Goddard Laboratory for Atmospheres for 1982–1993 and the other generated by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction for 1982–1995, are used to examine the relationship between the Southern Oscillation (SO) and the interannual variation of atmospheric mass. Both reanalyses show that atmospheric mass increases (decreases) during the positive (negative) SO phase. Atmospheric mass consists of dry air and moisture. Since dry mass is conserved, the interannual variation of atmospheric mass results from the variation of water vapor pressure. Thus, global atmospheric hydrological processes are analyzed to illustrate how the SO affects the interannual variation of atmospheric mass. During the positive (negative) SO phase, water vapor is converged (diverged) toward (out of) the central-eastern tropical Pacific [where sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are higher (lower) than normal] to maintain (suppress) cumulus convection in that area. An anomalous east-west Walker circulation straddling the Dateline is driven by the anomalous cumulus convection in this region to create positive (negative) surface pressure anomalies over the western tropical Pacific-Indian Ocean, which result in an increase (decrease) in atmospheric mass.DOI: 10.1034/j.1600-0870.1997.t01-4-00003.x
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