A new perspective on Southern hemisphere storm-tracks.
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1175/JCLI3570.1
A detailed view of Southern Hemisphere storm tracks is obtained based on the application of filtered variance and modern feature-tracking techniques to a wide range of 45-yr European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Re-Analysis (ERA-40) data. It has been checked that the conclusions drawn in this study are valid even if data from only the satellite era are used. The emphasis of the paper is on the winter season, but results for the four seasons are also discussed. Both upper- and lower-tropospheric fields are used. The tracking analysis focuses on systems that last longer than 2 days and are mobile (move more than 1000 km). Many of the results support previous ideas about the storm tracks, but some new insights are also obtained. In the summer there is a rather circular, strong, deep high-latitude storm track. In winter the high-latitude storm track is more asymmetric with a spiral from the Atlantic and Indian Oceans in toward Antarctica and a subtropical jet–related lower-latitude storm track over the Pacific, again tending to spiral poleward. At all times of the year, maximum storm activity in the higher-latitude storm track is in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions. In the winter upper troposphere, the relative importance of, and interplay between, the subtropical and subpolar storm tracks is discussed. The genesis, lysis, and growth rate of lower-tropospheric winter cyclones together lead to a vivid picture of their behavior that is summarized as a set of overlapping plates, each composed of cyclone life cycles. Systems in each plate appear to feed the genesis in the next plate through downstream development in the upper-troposphere spiral storm track. In the lee of the Andes in South America, there is cyclogenesis associated with the subtropical jet and also, poleward of this, cyclogenesis largely associated with system decay on the upslope and regeneration on the downslope. The genesis and lysis of cyclones and anticyclones have a definite spatial relationship with each other and with the Andes. At 500 hPa, their relative longitudinal positions are consistent with vortex-stretching ideas for simple flow over a large-scale mountain. Cyclonic systems near Antarctica have generally spiraled in from lower latitudes. However, cyclogenesis associated with mobile cyclones occurs around the Antarctic coast with an interesting genesis maximum over the sea ice near 150°E. The South Pacific storm track emerges clearly from the tracking as a coherent deep feature spiraling from Australia to southern South America. A feature of the summer season is the genesis of eastward-moving cyclonic systems near the tropic of Capricorn off Brazil, in the central Pacific and, to a lesser extent, off Madagascar, followed by movement along the southwest flanks of the subtropical anticyclones and contribution to the “convergence zone” cloud bands seen in these regions.