Articles | Volume 26, issue 6
11 Jun 2008
 | 11 Jun 2008

The role of the observed tropical convection in the generation of frost events in the southern cone of South America

G. V. Müller, T. Ambrizzi, and S. E. Ferraz

Abstract. Based on previous results obtained from observations and linear wave theory analysis, the hypothesis that large-scale patterns can generate extreme cold events in southeast South America through the propagation of remotely excited Rossby waves was already suggested. This work will confirm these findings and extend their analysis through a series of numerical experiments using a primitive equation model where waves are excited by a thermal forcing situated in positions chosen according to observed convection anomalies over the equatorial region. The basic state used for these experiments is a composite of austral winters with maximum and minimum frequency of occurrence of generalized frosts that can affect a large area known as the Wet Pampas located in the central and eastern part of Argentina.

The results suggest that stationary Rossby waves may be one important mechanism linking anomalous tropical convection with the extreme cold events in the Wet Pampas. The combination of tropical convection and a specific basic state can generate the right environment to guide the Rossby waves trigged by the tropical forcing towards South America. Depending on the phase of the waves entering the South American continent, they can favour the advection of anomalous wind at low levels from the south carrying cold and dry air over the whole southern extreme of the continent, producing a generalized frost in the Wet Pampa region. On the other hand, when a basic state based on the composites of minimum frosts is used, an anomalous anticyclone over the southern part of the continent generates a circulation with a south-southeast wind which brings maritime air and therefore humidity over the Wet Pampas region, creating negative temperature anomalies only over the northeastern part of the region. Under these conditions even if frosts occur they would not be generalized, as observed for the other basic state with maximum frequency of occurrence of generalized frosts.