Rossby Wave Breaking and Transport between the Tropics and Extratropics above the Subtropical Jet Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractRossby wave breaking is an important mechanism for the two-way exchange of air between the tropical upper troposphere and lower stratosphere and the extratropical lower stratosphere. The authors present a 30-yr climatology (19812010) of anticyclonically and cyclonically sheared wave-breaking events along the boundary of the tropics in the 350500-K potential temperature range from ECMWF Interim Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim). Lagrangian transport analyses show net equatorward transport from wave breaking near 380 K and poleward transport at altitudes below and above the 370390-K layer. The finding of poleward transport at lower levels is in disagreement with previous studies and is shown to largely depend on the choice of tropical boundary. In addition, three distinct modes of transport for anticyclonic wave-breaking events are found near the tropical tropopause (380 K): poleward, equatorward, and symmetric. Transport associated with cyclonic wave-breaking events, however, is predominantly poleward. The three transport modes for anticyclonic wave breaking are associated with specific characteristics of the geometry of the mean flow. In particular, composite averages show that poleward transport is associated with a split subtropical jet where the jet on the upstream side of the breaking wave extends eastward and lies poleward and at lower altitudes of the subtropical jet on the downstream side, producing a substantial longitudinal overlap between the two jets. Equatorward transport is not associated with a split subtropical jet and is found immediately downstream of stationary anticyclones in the tropics, often associated with monsoon circulations. It is further shown that, in general, the transport direction of breaking waves is determined primarily by the relative positions of the jets.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Homeyer, C. R., & Bowman, K. P.

citation count

  • 80

complete list of authors

  • Homeyer, Cameron R||Bowman, Kenneth P

publication date

  • February 2013