Sub-monthly Evolution of the Caribbean Low-Level Jet and its Relationship with Regional Precipitation and Atmospheric Circulation

Ivonne García Martínez, Massimo Bollasina

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The summer spatial structure and sub-monthly temporal evolution of one of the key dynamical features of Central American climate, the Caribbean Low-Level Jet (CLLJ), is investigated by means of extended empirical orthogonal functions (EEOFs). The Caribbean 925-hPa zonal wind from the CFSR reanalysis for the period 1979 – 2010 is used for the analysis. This approach reveals new insights into the dynamical processes and spatio-temporal evolution of the CLLJ summer intensification, and through lead and lag linear regressions, significant climate links in the broader Caribbean region are identified. The results show that the CLLJ generates significant precipitation and temperature responses with a distinct temporal evolution over the Caribbean-Atlantic domain to that over the tropical Pacific, which hints at different underlying controlling mechanisms over these two large-scale regions. These anomalies are linked with the mid and upper tropospheric circulation, where a vertical cell over the Caribbean (ascending at the jet exit and subsiding at its entrance) varies in phase with large-scale divergence over the Pacific Ocean. Extratropical hemispheric-wide waves and the weakening of a thermal low in northeast Mexico-central US are identified as potential triggering factors for the CLLJ summer intensification. Two leading modes of tropical variability, El Niño Southern Oscillation and the Madden-Julian Oscillation, are found to modulate the CLLJ by intensifying it and prolonging its life cycle. Details of the underlying mechanisms are provided. These results help to advance the understanding of the processes that modulate local climate variations, which is an important issue in view of the rapid climate change the region is undergoing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalClimate Dynamics
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2020


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