Low-level jets and their effects on the South American summer climate as simulated by the NCEP Eta Model

Anandu D. Vernekar, Ben P. Kirtman, Michael J. Fennessy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

The National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Eta Model (80 km. 38L) is used to simulate the tropical South American summer (January-March) climate for 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, and 1991 using lateral boundary conditions from the NCEP-National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) reanalysis. Simulations of the lower tropospheric circulation and precipitation are analyzed to study the variability on diurnal, intraseasonal, and interannual timescales. The results are compared with observations and previous studies. The Eta Model produces better regional circulation details, such as low-level jets (LLJs), than does the reanalysis because of its higher resolution, more realistic topography and coastal geometry, and because of its ability to realistically simulate the effects of mesoscale circulation on the time-mean flow. The model detects not only the LLJ east of the Andes Mountains and the LLJ west of northern Cordillera Occidental, which have been reported in previous studies, but it also detects three distinct LLJs just north of the equator embedded in the strong northeasterly trade winds over Colombia, Venezuela, and Guiana. All the LLJs show strong diurnal variability with a nocturnal maximum. The LLJ east of the Andes Mountains brings warm moist air from the Amazon basin to the Grau Chaco region where the jet exits. The moisture convergence in the jet exit region creates favorable conditions for precipitation. Hence, the precipitation over the region also shows strong diurnal variability with a nocturnal maximum. The LLJs just north of the equator bring moisture from the tropical Atlantic Ocean, the western Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Panama to their exit regions over the northern Amazon basin and west coasts of Colombia and Ecuador. The precipitation over these regions also has diurnal variability with a nocturnal maximum. The diurnal variability of precipitation over most of the Tropics has an afternoon rainfall maximum except for regions influenced by LLJs, which have a nocturnal rainfall maximum. The intraseasonal variability of the LLJs is episodic with an approximate period of 20 days. The interannual variability of the LLJs is dominated by the ENSO cycle. The LLJ east of the Andes Mountains is stronger in the warm phase of ENSO than in the cold phase. However, the model has some difficulty simulating the observed relationship between the strength of LLJ and precipitation, but the model succeeds in the case of LLJs just north of the equator. For example, these LLJs are weaker in the warm phase of ENSO than in the cold phase. Hence, during the warm (cold) phase of ENSO, dry (wet) conditions normally occur over the northern part of the Amazon basin, which is the exit region of these LLJs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-311
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Climate
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 15 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Low-level jets and their effects on the South American summer climate as simulated by the NCEP Eta Model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this