Convectively coupled Kelvin waves in aquachannel simulations: 1. Propagation speeds, composite structures, and comparison with aquaplanets

Joaquín E. Blanco, David S Nolan, Stefan N. Tulich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Convectively coupled Kelvin waves (CCKWs) represent a significant contribution to the total variability of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). This study analyzes the structure and propagation of CCKWs simulated by the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model using two types of idealized domains. These are the “aquachannel,” a flat rectangle on a beta plane with zonally periodic boundary conditions and length equal to the Earth's circumference at the equator, and the “aquapatch,” a square domain with zonal extent equal to one third of the aquachannel's length. A series of simulations are performed, including a doubly nested aquapatch, in which convection is solved explicitly along the equator. The model intercomparison is carried out throughout the use of several techniques such as power spectra, filtering, wave tracking, and compositing, and it is extended to some simulations from the Aquaplanet Experiment (APE). Results show that despite the equatorial superrotation bias produced by the WRF simulations, the CCKWs simulated with this model propagate with similar phase speeds (relative to the low-level mean flow) as the corresponding waves from the APE simulations. Horizontal and vertical structures of the CCKWs simulated with aquachannels are also in overall good agreement with those from aquaplanet simulations and observations, although there is a distortion of the zonal extent of anomalies when the shorter aquapatch is used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11287-11318
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research C: Oceans
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 16 2016


  • aquachannel
  • aquaplanet
  • CCKW
  • ITCZ
  • Kelvin wave
  • super cloud cluster

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Forestry
  • Ecology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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