Mechanisms linking global 5-Day waves to tropical convection

Malcolm J. King, Matthew C. Wheeler, Todd P. Lane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Reanalysis data and satellite-derived rainfall measurements are examined to determine possible mechanisms linking the "5 day" Rossby-Haurwitz wave to localized variations of tropical convection. The mechanisms in all regions rely on the modulation of zonal winds near the equator by the wave, but the nature of these mechanisms depends strongly on local topography and local climate. In the upper Amazon basin, the wave modulates the strength of prevailing easterlies and thus the upslope flow and associated convection on the eastern edge of the Andes. Similar modulation of upslope flow is involved off the Panamanian and Colombian Pacific coasts, but the deflection and confluence of low-level wind in the presence of the Andes and moisture transports across the Andes from the Amazon basin are also factors. Similar deflection and confluence of winds around and through the Maritime Continent lead to low-level divergence and convection anomalies over the eastern Indian Ocean. Anomalous moisture transports from the Congo basin to the eastern and northeastern Gulf of Guinea due to the wave affect atmospheric moisture over the Gulf of Guinea and thus convection in the region. Over oceanic convergence zones, modulations of the prevailing winds by the wave affect the overall wind magnitude, changing evaporation from the ocean surface and atmospheric moisture. Most of these mechanisms arise from the nonuniform nature of Earth's surface and suggest that other external Rossby-Haurwitz waves may have similar interactions with convection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3679-3702
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Convection
  • Planetary waves
  • Rossby waves
  • Tropical variability
  • Tropics

Cite this