Articles | Volume 28, issue 1
08 Jan 2010
 | 08 Jan 2010

Temperature decrease in the extratropics of South America in response to a tropical forcing during the austral winter

G. V. Müller

Abstract. This paper focuses on the dynamic mechanisms that create favorable conditions for the occurrence of frosts that affect large areas of Argentina and are denominated generalized frosts (GF). The hemispheric teleconnection patterns linked to extreme cold events affecting central and northeastern Argentina during winter are identified. The objective is to determine whether the conditions found in previous studies for the composite of winters with extreme (maximum and minimum) frequency of GF occurrence respond to typical characteristics of the austral winter or they are inherent to those particular winters. Taking the mean winter as basic state in the 1961–1990 period, a series of numerical experiments are run using a primitive equation model in which waves are excited with a thermal forcing. The positions of the thermal forcing are chosen according to observed convection anomalies in a basic state given by the austral winters with extreme frequency of GF occurrence.

The wave trains excited by anomalous convection situated in specific regions may propagate across the Pacific Ocean and reach South America with the appropriate phase, creating the local favorable conditions for the occurrence of GF. However, the anomalous convection is, by itself, not sufficient since the response also depends on the basic state configuration. This is proved by placing the forcing over the region of significant anomalous convection for maximum and minimum frequency of GF occurrence and the response was very different in comparison to the mean winter. It is concluded that the conditions for a greater GF frequency of occurrence are inherent to these particular winters, so that such conditions are not present in the average winter.