Seasonality and interannual variability of the westerly jet in the Tibetan Plateau region
Schiemann, R., Lüthi, D. and Schär, C. (2008) Seasonality and interannual variability of the westerly jet in the Tibetan Plateau region. Journal of Climate, 22 (11). pp. 2940-2957. ISSN 1520-0442
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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/2008JCLI2625.1
In this study, 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40) data are used for the description of the seasonal cycle and the interannual variability of the westerly jet in the Tibetan Plateau region. To complement results based on the analysis of monthly mean horizontal wind speeds, an occurrence-based jet climatology is constructed by identifying the locations of the jet axes at 6-hourly intervals throughout 1958–2001. Thus, a dataset describing the highly transient and localized features of jet variability is obtained. During winter and summer the westerly jet is located, respectively, to the south and north of the Tibetan Plateau. During the spring and autumn seasons there are jet transitions from south to north and vice versa. The median dates for these transitions are 28 April and 12 October. The spring transition is associated with large interannual variations, while the fall transition occurs more reliably within a 3-week period. The strength of the jet exhibits a peculiar seasonal cycle. During northward migration in April/May, the jet intensity weakens and its latitudinal position varies largely. In some springs, there are several transitions and split configurations occur before the jet settles in its northern summer position. In June, a well-defined and unusually strong jet reappears at the northern flanks of the Tibetan Plateau. In autumn, the jet gradually but reliably recedes to the south and is typically more intense than in spring. The jet transitions between the two preferred locations follow the seasonal latitudinal migration of the jet in the Northern Hemisphere. An analysis of interannual variations shows the statistical relationship between the strength of the summer jet, the tropospheric meridional temperature gradient, and the all-India rainfall series. Both this analysis and results from previous studies point to the particular dynamical relevance of the onsetting Indian summer monsoon precipitation and the associated diabatic heating for the formation of the strong summer jet. Finally, an example is provided that illustrates the climatological significance of the jet in terms of the covariation between the jet location and the spatial precipitation distribution in central Asia.