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Changes in water vapor transports of the ascending branch of the tropical circulation

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Zahn, M. and Allan, R. (2011) Changes in water vapor transports of the ascending branch of the tropical circulation. Journal of Geophysical Research, 116. D18111. ISSN 2156–2202

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1029/2011JD016206

Abstract/Summary

Recent studies have found contradicting results on whether tropical atmospheric circulation (TAC) has intensified or weakened in recent decades. We here re-investigate recent changes in TAC derived from moisture transports into the tropics using high temporal and spatial resolution reanalyses from ERA-interim. We found a significant strengthening of both, the lower level inward transports and the mid level outward transports over the recent two decades. However the signal in the total budget is weak, because strengthening of the in and outflow neutralize each other, at least to some extent. We found atmospheric humidity to be relatively stable, so suggest that the intensification is mainly caused by an intensification of the wind related circulation strength. The exact quantitative values were found to heavily depend on whether the calculations are based on mean or instantaneous values. We highlight the importance for using the instantaneous ones for transport calculations, as they represent the coincidence of high wind speeds and high atmospheric humidity.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > Department of Meteorology
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Walker Institute for Climate System Research
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > Environmental Systems Science Centre
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > NCAS
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO)
ID Code:21846
Publisher:American Geophysical Union

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