Is midlatitude convection an active or a passive player in producing global circulation patterns?

D. J. Stensrud, J. L. Anderson

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19 Scopus citations


The ability of persistent midlatitude convective regions to influence hemispheric circulation patterns during the Northern Hemisphere summer is investigated. Global rainfall data over a 15-yr period indicate anomalously large July total rainfalls occurred over mesoscale-sized, midlatitude regions of North America and/or Southeast Asia during the years of 1987, 1991. 1992, and 1993. The anomalous 200-hPa vorticity patterns for these same years are suggestive of Rossby wave trains emanating from the regions of anomalous rainfall in the midlatitudes. Results from an analysis of an 11-yr mean monthly 200-hPa July wind field indicate that, in the climatological mean. Rossby waveguides are present that could assist in developing a large-scale response from mesoscale-sized regions of persistent convection in the midlatitudes. This hypothesis is tested using a barotropic model linearized about the 200-hPa July time-mean flow and forced by the observed divergence anomalies. The model results are in qualitative agreement in the observed July vorticity anomalies for the four years investigated. Model results forced by observed tropical forcings for the same years do not demonstrate any significant influence on the midlatitude circulation. It is argued that persistent midlatitude convective regions may play a role in the development, maintenance, and dissipation of the large-scale circulations that help to support the convective regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2222-2237
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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