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Atmospheric convergence zones stemming from large-scale mixing

Perez, G. M. P., Vidale, P. L. ORCID:, Klingaman, N. P. ORCID: and Martin, T. C. M. (2021) Atmospheric convergence zones stemming from large-scale mixing. Weather and Climate Dynamics, 2 (2). pp. 475-488. ISSN 2698-4024

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To link to this item DOI: 10.5194/wcd-2-475-2021


Organised cloud bands are important features of tropical and subtropical rainfall. These structures are often regarded as convergence zones, alluding to an association with coherent atmospheric flow. However, the flow kinematics is not usually taken into account in classification methods for this type of event, as large-scale lines are rarely evident in instantaneous diagnostics such as Eulerian convergence. Instead, existing convergence zone definitions rely on heuristic rules of shape, duration and size of cloudiness fields. Here we investigate the role of large-scale turbulence in shaping atmospheric moisture in South America. We employ the Finite-Time Lyapunov Exponent (FTLE), a metric of deformation among neighboring trajectories, to define convergence zones as attracting Lagrangian Coherent Structures (LCSs). Attracting LCSs frequent tropical and subtropical South America, with climatologies consistent with the South Atlantic Convergence Zone (SACZ), the South American Low level Jet (SALLJ) and the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). In regions under the direct influence of the ITCZ and the SACZ, rainfall is significantly positively correlated with large-scale mixing measured by the FTLE. Attracting LCSs in South and Southeast Brazil are associated with significant positive rainfall and moisture flux anomalies. Geopotential height composites suggest that the occurrence of attracting LCSs in these regions is related with teleconnection mechanisms such as the Pacific-South Atlantic. We believe that this kinematical approach can be used as an alternative to region-specific convergence zone classification algorithms; it may help advance the understanding of underlying mechanisms of tropical and subtropical rain bands and their role in the hydrological cycle

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:101607


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