Variability of South American Convective Cloud Systems and Tropospheric Circulation during January–March 1998 and 1999

Ferreira, Rosana Nieto; Rickenbach, Thomas M.; Herdies, Dirceu L.; Carvalho, Leila M. V.
May 2003
Monthly Weather Review;May2003, Vol. 131 Issue 5, p961
Academic Journal
A comparison of the submonthly variability of atmospheric circulation and organization of convection in South America during January-February-March of 1998 (JFM98) and January-February-March of 1999 (JFM99) is presented. According to the National Centers for Environmental Prediction reanalysis, the South American low-level jet (SALLJ) was about twice as strong during JFM of the 1998 E1 Niño episode than during JFM of the 1999 La Niña episode. The difference in SALLJ strength between these two years translated into stronger transport of moist tropical air into the subtropics during JFM98 than during JFM99. An objective tracking technique was used to identify large, long-lived convective cloud systems in infrared imagery. The stronger SALLJ was accompanied by larger and more numerous long-lived convective cloud systems and nearly twice as much rainfall in subtropical South America (parts of southern Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina) during JFM98 than during JFM99. The difference between JFM98 and JFM99 SALLJ strength in Bolivia is in part explained by submonthly variability associated with the South Atlantic convergence zone (SACZ). Periods when the SACZ is present are marked by southerly or weak northerly winds in Bolivia. The South Atlantic convergence zone was more prominent during JFM99 than during JFM98 contributing to a weaker SALLJ during JFM99. Large, long-lived convective cloud systems in subtropical South America tended to occur during times when the SACZ was absent and the SALLJ was strong over Bolivia. Interannual variability associated with the E1 Niño-Southern Oscillation also contributed to the observed interannual variability of the SALLJ in Bolivia. In the tropical portions of South America nearly 6 times more large, long-lived convective cloud systems were observed during JFM99 than during JFM98. This was accompanied by more plentiful precipitation in portions of the Amazon basin and in the Bolivian Altiplano during...


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