The Pacific–South American modes and their downstream effects



There are two pervasive modes of atmospheric variability in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) that influence circulation and rainfall anomalies over South America. They appear as leading empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs) of 500-hPa height or 200-hPa streamfunction anomalies and are found from intraseasonal to decadal time scales. Both patterns exhibit wave 3 hemispheric patterns in mid to high latitudes, and a well-defined wave train with large amplitude in the Pacific–South American (PSA) sector. Therefore, they are referred to as the PSA modes (PSA1 and PSA2).

PSA1 is related to sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTAs) over the central and eastern Pacific at decadal scales, and it is the response to El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the interannual band. The associated rainfall summer pattern shows rainfall deficits over northeastern Brazil and enhanced rainfall over southeastern South America similar to rainfall anomalies during ENSO. PSA2 is associated with the quasi-biennial component of ENSO, with a period of 22–28 months and the strongest connections occur during the austral spring. The associated rainfall pattern shows a dipole pattern with anomalies out of phase between the South Atlantic Convergence Zone (SACZ) extending from central South America into the Atlantic and the subtropical plains centred at 35°S.

These two modes are also apparent in tropical intraseasonal oscillations for both summer and winter. Eastward propagation of enhanced convection from the Indian Ocean through the western Pacific to the central Pacific is accompanied by a wave train that appears to originate in the convective regions. The positive PSA1 pattern is associated with enhanced convection over the Pacific from 150°E to the date line. The convection pattern associated with PSA2 is in quadrature with that of PSA1. Both PSA modes are influenced by the Madden Julian Oscillation and influence rainfall over South America. Copyright © 2001 Royal Meteorological Society