, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 411-422

Variability of the Caribbean Low-Level Jet and its relations to climate

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Abstract

A maximum of easterly zonal wind at 925 hPa in the Caribbean region is called the Caribbean Low-Level Jet (CLLJ). Observations show that the easterly CLLJ varies semi-annually, with two maxima in the summer and winter and two minima in the fall and spring. Associated with the summertime strong CLLJ are a maximum of sea level pressure (SLP), a relative minimum of rainfall (the mid-summer drought), and a minimum of tropical cyclogenesis in July in the Caribbean Sea. It is found that both the meridional gradients of sea surface temperature (SST) and SLP show a semi-annual feature, consistent with the semi-annual variation of the CLLJ. The CLLJ anomalies vary with the Caribbean SLP anomalies that are connected to the variation of the North Atlantic Subtropical High (NASH). In association with the cold (warm) Caribbean SST anomalies, the atmosphere shows the high (low) SLP anomalies near the Caribbean region that are consistent with the anomalously strong (weak) easterly CLLJ. The CLLJ is also remotely related to the SST anomalies in the Pacific and Atlantic, reflecting that these SST variations affect the NASH. During the winter, warm (cold) SST anomalies in the tropical Pacific correspond to a weak (strong) easterly CLLJ. However, this relationship is reversed during the summer. This is because the effects of ENSO on the NASH are opposite during the winter and summer. The CLLJ varies in phase with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) since a strong (weak) NASH is associated with a strengthening (weakening) of both the CLLJ and the NAO. The CLLJ is positively correlated with the 925-hPa meridional wind anomalies from the ocean to the United States via the Gulf of Mexico. Thus, the CLLJ and the meridional wind carry moisture from the ocean to the central United States, usually resulting in an opposite (or dipole) rainfall pattern in the tropical North Atlantic Ocean and Atlantic warm pool versus the central United States.