Accessibility navigation


Interdecadal enhancement of the Walker circulation over the Tropical Pacific in the late 1990s

Dong, B. and Lu, R. (2013) Interdecadal enhancement of the Walker circulation over the Tropical Pacific in the late 1990s. Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, 30 (2). pp. 247-262. ISSN 1861-9533

Full text not archived in this repository.

It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00376-012-2069-9

Abstract/Summary

The Walker circulation is one of the major components of the large-scale tropical atmospheric circulation and variations in its strength are critical to equatorial Pacific Ocean circulation. It has been argued in the literature that during the 20th century the Walker circulation weakened, and that this weakening was attributable to anthropogenic climate change. By using updated observations, we show that there has been a rapid interdecadal enhancement of the Walker circulation since the late 1990s. Associated with this enhancement is enhanced precipitation in the tropical western Pacific, anomalous westerlies in the upper troposphere, descent in the central and eastern tropical Pacific, and anomalous surface easterlies in the western and central tropical Pacific. The characteristics of associated oceanic changes are a strengthened thermocline slope and an enhanced zonal SST gradient across the tropical Pacific. Many characteristics of these changes are similar to those associated with the mid-1970s climate shift with an opposite sign. We also show that the interdecadal variability of the Walker circulation in the tropical Pacific is inversely correlated to the interdecadal variability of the zonal circulation in the tropical Atlantic. An enhancement of the Walker circulation in the tropical Pacific is associated with a weakening zonal circulation in the tropical Atlantic and vise versa, implying an inter-Atlantic-Pacific connection of the zonal overturning circulation variation. Whether these recent changes will be sustained is not yet clear, but our research highlights the importance of understanding the interdecadal variability, as well as the long-term trends, that influence tropical circulation.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:34330
Publisher:Springer

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation