Seasonality in the impact of ENSO and the North Atlantic high on Caribbean rainfall

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Physics and Chemistry of the Earth Part B-Hydrology Oceans and Atmosphere
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Caribbean rainfall is affected by climate variability of Pacific and Atlantic origin, e.g. the El Nine-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon, and variability in the North Atlantic High sea level pressure (SLP) center, respectively. During the lifetime of an ENSO cycle, the basin experiences dry and wet extremes. In the case of a warm event, the dry extreme precedes the mature ENSO phase, and can be explained in terms of a direct response to the atmospheric anomaly generated by the warm sea surface temperatures (SST) in the eastern equatorial Pacific. The wet extreme follows the mature phase, and is consistent with the lagged warming effect of ENSO on tropical North Atlantic SSTs. The wintertime state of the North Atlantic High is hypothesized to affect Caribbean rainfall through its effect on tropical SST. A strong North Atlantic High SLP center during the early months of the calendar year strengthens the trade winds, hence cooling SSTs in the tropical latitudes of the North Atlantic. The effect lingers on most noticeably until the start of the Caribbean rainy season, in May-June, when cool SSTs are associated with deficient rainfall in the basin. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.


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