Effect of tropical waves on the tropical tropopause transition layer upwelling

Jung Hee Ryu, Sukyoung Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


An initial-value problem is employed with a GCM to investigate the role of the convectively driven Rossby and Kelvin waves for tropopause transition layer (TTL) upwelling in the tropics. The convective heating is mimicked with a prescribed heating field, and the Lagrangian upwelling is identified by examining the evolution of passive tracer fields whose initial distribution is identical to the initial heating field. This study shows that an overturning circulation, induced by the tropical Rossby waves, is capable of generating the TTL upwelling. Even when the heating is placed in the eastern Pacific, the TTL upwelling occurs only over the western tropical Pacific, indicating that the background flow plays a crucial role. The results from a Rossby wave source analysis suggest that a key feature of the background flow is the strong absolute vorticity gradient associated with the Asian subtropical jet. In addition, static stability is relatively weak over the western Pacific, suggesting that this may also contribute to the TTL upwelling in that region. The background flow also modulates the internal Kelvin waves in such a manner that the coldest region in the TTL (resembling the observed "cold trap") occurs over the western tropical Pacific. As a consequence, the upwelling air, induced by the meridional momentum flux of the Rossby wave, passes through the cold trap generated by the Kelvin wave. Since in reality the background flow is shaped by the convective heating, the climatological western tropical Pacific heating is ultimately responsible for both the TTL upwelling and the cold trap; however, both processes are realized indirectly through its impact on the background flow and the generation of the tropical waves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3130-3148
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of tropical waves on the tropical tropopause transition layer upwelling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this