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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 26, issue 11
Ann. Geophys., 26, 3457–3476, 2008
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-26-3457-2008
© Author(s) 2008. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 26, 3457–3476, 2008
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-26-3457-2008
© Author(s) 2008. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  10 Nov 2008

10 Nov 2008

The impact of the subtropical South Atlantic SST on South American precipitation

A. S. Taschetto1 and I. Wainer2 A. S. Taschetto and I. Wainer
  • 1Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC), University of New South Wales, UNSW, 2052, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  • 2Department of Physical Oceanography, Institute of Oceanography, University of São Paulo, Praça do Oceanográfico, 191 – 05508-120, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Abstract. The Community Climate Model (CCM3) from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is used to investigate the effect of the South Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies on interannual to decadal variability of South American precipitation. Two ensembles composed of multidecadal simulations forced with monthly SST data from the Hadley Centre for the period 1949 to 2001 are analysed.

A statistical treatment based on signal-to-noise ratio and Empirical Orthogonal Functions (EOF) is applied to the ensembles in order to reduce the internal variability among the integrations. The ensemble treatment shows a spatial and temporal dependence of reproducibility. High degree of reproducibility is found in the tropics while the extratropics is apparently less reproducible. Austral autumn (MAM) and spring (SON) precipitation appears to be more reproducible over the South America-South Atlantic region than the summer (DJF) and winter (JJA) rainfall. While the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) region is dominated by external variance, the South Atlantic Convergence Zone (SACZ) over South America is predominantly determined by internal variance, which makes it a difficult phenomenon to predict. Alternatively, the SACZ over western South Atlantic appears to be more sensitive to the subtropical SST anomalies than over the continent.

An attempt is made to separate the atmospheric response forced by the South Atlantic SST anomalies from that associated with the El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Results show that both the South Atlantic and Pacific SSTs modulate the intensity and position of the SACZ during DJF. Particularly, the subtropical South Atlantic SSTs are more important than ENSO in determining the position of the SACZ over the southeast Brazilian coast during DJF. On the other hand, the ENSO signal seems to influence the intensity of the SACZ not only in DJF but especially its oceanic branch during MAM. Both local and remote influences, however, are confounded by the large internal variance in the region. During MAM and JJA, the South Atlantic SST anomalies affect the magnitude and the meridional displacement of the ITCZ. In JJA, the ENSO has relatively little influence on the interannual variability of the simulated rainfall. During SON, however, the ENSO seems to counteract the effect of the subtropical South Atlantic SST variations on convection over South America.

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