Recurrent daily OLR patterns in the Southern Africa/Southwest Indian Ocean region, implications for South African rainfall and teleconnections
A cluster analysis of daily outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) anomalies from 1979 to 2002 over the Southern Africa/Southwest Indian Ocean (SWIO) region for the November to February season reveals seven robust and statistically well separated recurrent patterns of large-scale organized convection. Among them are three regimes indicative of well defined tropical–temperate interactions linking the hinterland parts of Southern Africa to the mid-latitudes of the SWIO. Preferred transitions show a tendency for an eastward propagation of these systems. Analysis of daily rainfall records for South Africa shows that six of the OLR regimes are associated with spatially coherent and significant patterns of enhanced or reduced daily rainfall over the country. Atmospheric anomalies from the NCEP/DOE II reanalysis dataset show that the OLR regimes are associated with either regional or near-global adjustments of the atmospheric circulation, the three regimes representative of tropical–temperate interactions being in particular related to a well-defined wave structure encompassing the subtropical and temperate latitudes, featuring strong vertical anomalies and strong poleward export of momentum in the lee of the location of the cloud-band. The time-series of OLR regimes seasonal frequency are correlated to distinctive anomaly patterns in the global sea-surface-temperature field, among which are shown to be those corresponding to El Nino and La Nina conditions. The spatial signature of El Nino Southern Oscillation’s (ENSO) influence is related to the combination of an increased/decreased frequency of these regimes. It is shown in particular that the well-known “dipole” in convection anomalies contrasting Southern Africa and the SWIO during ENSO events arises as an effect of seasonal averaging and is therefore not valid at the synoptic scale. This study also provides a framework to better understand the observed non-linearities between ENSO and the seasonal convection and rainfall anomalies over the region.
KeywordsSouthern Africa and Southwest Indian Ocean Atmospheric convection Cluster Analysis Tropical-temperate-troughs Rainfall variability Scale interactions
Nicolas Fauchereau would like to thank UCT for funding his post-doctoral fellowship. This study is part of the Water Research Commission project K5/1747/1. The authors thanks the anonymous reviewers for their useful comments and suggestions.
- Colberg F, Reason CJC, Rodgers K (2004) South Atlantic response to ENSO induced climate variability in an OGCM. J Geophys Res 109:C12015. doi: 10.1029/2004JC002301
- Harrison MSJ (1986) A synoptic climatology of South African rainfall variations. Ph.D. thesis, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 341 pGoogle Scholar
- Jury MR (1992) A climatic dipole governing the interannual variability of convection over the SW Indian Ocean and SE Africa region. Trends Geophys Res 1:165–172Google Scholar
- Liebmann B, Smith CA (1996) Description of a complete (interpolated) outgoing longwave radiation dataset. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 77:1275–1277Google Scholar
- Lynch SD (2003) Development of a RASTER database of annual, monthly and daily rainfall for Southern Africa. Report no. 1156/1/03. Water Research Commission, Pretoria, 78 pGoogle Scholar
- Nicholson SE, Kim J (1997) The relationship of El Nino-Southern Oscillation to African rainfall. Int J Climatol 23:1335–1357Google Scholar
- Wolter K, Timlin MS (1993) Monitoring ENSO in COADS with a seasonally adjusted principal component index. In: Proceedings of the 17th climate diagnostics workshop, Norman, OK, pp 52–57Google Scholar