Identifying role of subtropical southeast Pacific SST anomalies on precipitation dynamics in Central Chile

Friday, 19 December 2014
Deniz Bozkurt, University of Chile, Center for Climate and Resilience Research, Santiago, Chile and Rene Garreaud, University of Chile, Department of Geophysics, Center for Climate and Resilience Research, Santiago, Chile
Central Chile (CC, western South America coasts, 28°S- 38°S) is the heartland of Chile with the highest population and important economic activities. The region is characterized by semiarid Mediterranean climate with a marked precipitation gradient along the coast from north to south, mostly due to the positioning of the South Pacific Subtropical Anticyclone and the midlatitude westerlies belt. Although there are several diagnostic studies that focus on the impact of tropical Pacific SST on CC precipitation variability via atmospheric teleconnections, less attention has been placed on impacts of subtropical southeast (SE) Pacific SST on precipitation. The later region is immediately adjacent to CC and it interferes with the overpassing atmospheric systems. In particular we want to assess the impact of a consistent cooling over the SE Pacific during the last 30 years. This study is being tackled by a combination of observational and reanalysis datasets together with numerical simulations. Observational dataset includes gridded dataset of CRU, TRMM and GPCP. Moreover, Reynolds SST data V2 based on AVHRR infrared satellite SST data is used for analyzing spatial and temporal changes in SST. Current modelling experiment includes a control simulation, used as reference, and sensitivity simulation that involves perturbations to SST over subtropical SE Pacific for a normal year austral winter (2001) season. A number of simulations with different initial conditions have been carried out by employing ICTP-RegCM4. The domain for simulations was centered at 82oW and 32oW with 288x288 grid cells on 20 km spatial resolution. Preliminary results indicate that the response of precipitation in CC to SST anomalies in the subtropical SE Pacific exhibits more or less linear behavior. In the colder SST experiments, drier conditions dominate over CC, which is possibly related with the intensification of South Pacific Subtropical Anticyclone (SPSA) or a reduction in the available moisture. On the other hand, weakening of SPSA results wetter conditions in CC due to an extension of mid- and upper-level trough from south toward CC in the warmer SST experiments. The study will be also extended with long-term climate sensitivity simulations including El-Niño and La-Niña years in a bigger domain that covers tropical Pacific Ocean as well.