Interpretation of Enhanced Integrated Water Vapor Bands Associated with Extratropical Cyclones: Their Formation and Connection to Tropical Moisture

Bao, J.-W.; Michelson, S. A.; Neiman, P. J.; Ralph, F. M.; Wilczak, J. M.
April 2006
Monthly Weather Review;Apr2006, Vol. 134 Issue 4, p1063
Academic Journal
Trajectory analysis using a weather prediction model is performed for five cases to interpret the formation of enhanced bands of vertically integrated water vapor (IWV) in the central and eastern Pacific that are frequently seen in satellite images from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager. The connection of these enhanced bands with poleward water vapor transport from the Tropics is also examined. It is shown that the leading end of the enhanced IWV bands (defined as the most eastward and poleward end) is the manifestation of moisture convergence in the warm conveyor belt associated with extratropical cyclones, while the bands away from the leading end result mainly from moisture convergence along the trailing cold fronts. There is evidence that some enhanced IWV bands may be associated with a direct poleward transport of tropical moisture along the IWV bands from the Tropics all the way to the extratropics. The trajectory analysis, together with the seasonal mean sea level pressure analysis, indicates that a favorable condition for the occurrence of a direct, along-IWV band transport of tropical (defined as south of 23.5°N) moisture to the U.S. West Coast in the eastern Pacific is a weakened subtropical ridge in the central Pacific with an enhanced southwesterly low-level flow. The authors hypothesize that the direct poleward transport of tropical moisture within an enhanced IWV band in the eastern Pacific is most possible in the neutral El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phase and is least possible in the El Niño phase.


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