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Westward-propagating Moisture Mode over the Tropical Western Hemisphere
  • Victor C. Mayta,
  • Ángel F. Adames-Corraliza,
  • Fiaz Ahmed
Victor C. Mayta
University of Michigan

Corresponding Author:vchavezmayta@gmail.com

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Ángel F. Adames-Corraliza
Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
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Fiaz Ahmed
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A westward-propagating Rossby-like wave signal is found to explain a large fraction of the intraseasonal variance in cloud brightness over the western hemisphere. A series of diagnostic criteria suggest that this wave is a moisture mode: its moisture anomalies dominate the distribution of moist static energy (MSE) and are in phase with the precipitation anomalies; and the thermodynamic equation obeys the weak temperature gradient approximation. The wave propagates westward due to zonal moisture advection by the mean flow and is maintained by radiative heating and meridional moisture advection. These properties compare favorably with the westward propagating Rossby mode in an equatorial beta-plane model with prognostic moisture, mean meridional moisture gradient, and mean zonal wind. These results underscore the importance of water vapor in the dynamics of slowly evolving tropical systems, and the limitations of dry shallow water theory that rely on a “reduced equivalent depth” to represent moist dynamics.
28 Mar 2022Published in Geophysical Research Letters volume 49 issue 6. 10.1029/2022GL097799