Publications associated with Climate Physics

Impact of atmospheric blocking on south america in austral summer

Journal of Climate 30 (2017) 1789-1806

RR Rodrigues, T Woollings

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. This study investigates atmospheric blocking over eastern South America in austral summer for the period of 1979-2014. The results show that blocking over this area is a consequence of propagating Rossby waves that grow to large amplitudes and eventually break anticyclonically over subtropical South America (SSA). The SSA blocking can prevent the establishment of the South Atlantic convergence zone (SACZ). As such, years with more blocking days coincide with years with fewer SACZ days and reduced precipitation. Convection mainly over the Indian Ocean associated with Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO) phases 1 and 2 can trigger the wave train that leads to SSA blocking whereas convection over the western/central Pacific associated with phases 6 and 7 is more likely to lead to SACZ events. It is found that the MJO is a key source of long-term variability in SSA blocking frequency. The wave packets associated with SSA blocking and SACZ episodes differ not only in their origin but also in their phase and refraction pattern. The tropopause-based methodology used here is proven to reliably identify events that lead to extremes of surface temperature and precipitation over SSA. Up to 80% of warm surface air temperature extremes occur simultaneously with SSA blocking events. The frequency of SSA blocking days is highly anticorrelated with the rainfall over southeast Brazil. The worst droughts in this area, during the summers of 1984, 2001, and 2014, are linked to record high numbers of SSA blocking days. The persistence of these events is also important in generating the extreme impacts.

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