Convectively Coupled Equatorial Waves in Reanalysis and CMIP5 Simulations

Friday, 19 December 2014
Carlos A F Marques and José M. Castanheira, University of Aveiro, CESAM & Department of Physics, Aveiro, Portugal
Convectively coupled equatorial waves (CCEWs) are a result of the interplay between the physics and dynamics in the tropical atmosphere. As a result of such interplay, tropical convection appears often organized into synoptic to planetary-scale disturbances with time scales matching those of equatorial shallow water waves. CCEWs have broad impacts within the tropics, and their simulation in general circulation models is still problematic. Several studies showed that dispersion of those waves characteristics fit the dispersion curves derived from the Matsuno’s (1966) solutions of the shallow water equations on the equatorial beta plane, namely, Kelvin, equatorial Rossby, mixed Rossby-gravity, and inertio-gravity waves. However, the more common methodology used to identify those waves is yet controversial.

In this communication a new methodology for the diagnosis of CCEWs will be presented. It is based on a pre-filtering of the geopotential and horizontal wind, using 3--D normal modes functions of the adiabatic linearized equations of a resting atmosphere, followed by a space--time spectral analysis to identify the spectral regions of coherence. The methodology permits a direct detection of various types of equatorial waves, compares the dispersion characteristics of the coupled waves with the theoretical dispersion curves and allows an identification of which vertical modes are more involved in the convection. Moreover, the proposed methodology is able to show the existence of free dry waves and moist coupled waves with a common vertical structure, which is in conformity with the effect of convective heating/cooling on the effective static stability, as traduced in the gross moist stability concept. The methodology is also sensible to Doppler shifting effects.

The methodology has been applied to the ERA-Interim horizontal wind and geopotential height fields and to the interpolated Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) data produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The same type of data (i.e. u, v, Φ and OLR) from CMIP5 historical experiments (1976-2005) were analyzed. The obtained results provide examples of the aforementioned effects and points deficiencies in the models.