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Using a synoptic-scale mixing diagnostic to explain global precipitation variability from weekly to interannual time scales

Perez, G. M. P., Vidale, P. L. ORCID:, Dacre, H. ORCID: and García-Franco, J. L. (2022) Using a synoptic-scale mixing diagnostic to explain global precipitation variability from weekly to interannual time scales. Journal of Climate, 35 (24). pp. 4625-4643. ISSN 1520-0442

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/jcli-d-22-0110.1


Precipitation often happens along organised filaments or bands of moisture such as convergence zones. Recent regional studies have shown that these moisture filaments arise from synoptic-scale mixing features known as attracting “Lagrangian Coherent Structures” (LCSs). In this study, we present a climatology of synoptic-scale mixing and investigate its co-variability with precipitation on temporal scales ranging from weekly to interannual. We characterise mixing with the Finite-time Lyapunov Exponent (FTLE), a measure of parcel deformation, in ERA5 reanalysis data between 1980 and 2009. Attracting LCSs are identified as ridges of the FTLE. At the interannual time scale, we compare El Niño and La Niña events and find that composites of precipitation and mixing anomalies share similar spatial patterns. We also compare summer and winter seasons and find that composites of seasonal-mean precipitation and mixing anomalies present similar characteristics; i.e., precipitation is particularly intense (weak) where mixing is strong (weak). In particular, these patterns closely match the typical signatures of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and monsoon systems and the migrations of extratropical cyclone tracks. At the subseasonal scale, we employ daily composites to investigate the influence of the Madden-Julian Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation on the mixing regimes of the Atlantic and East Pacific; our results indicate that these oscillations control the synoptic-scale horizontal mixing and the occurrence of LCSs as to suppress or enhance precipitating systems like the ITCZ and the South Atlantic Convergence Zone. The results presented in this first climatology of synoptic-scale mixing and LCSs indicate that these are powerful diagnostics to identify circulation mechanisms underlying precipitation variability.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:107357
Uncontrolled Keywords:Atmospheric Science
Publisher:American Meteorological Society


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