Low–frequency variability and remote forcing of gap winds over the east Pacific warm pool

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Journal of Climate
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The low-frequency variability of gap winds at the Isthmuses of Tehuantepec and Papagayo is investigated using a 17-yr wind stress dataset merging the remotely sensed observations of Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) and Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) satellite sensors. A decadal signal is identified in the Tehuantepec gap winds, which is shown to be related to the Atlantic tripole pattern (ATP). Using linear regression and spectral analysis, it is demonstrated that the low-frequency variability of the Tehuantepec gap winds is remotely forced by the ATP, and the Papagayo gap winds are primarily governed by El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) with the ATP being of secondary importance.

The Tehuantepec (Papagayo) time series of wind stress anomalies can be better reconstructed when the local cross-isthmus pressure difference and large-scale climate information such as the ATP (ENSO) are included, suggesting that there is important information in the large-scale flow that is not transmitted directly through the background sea level pressure gradient. The geostrophic modulation of the easterly trades in the western Caribbean also serve as a remote driver of the Papagayo gap winds, which is itself not fully independent from ENSO. Finally, it is suggested that precipitation variability in the Inter-Americas region is closely related to the same remote forcing as that of the Tehuantepec gap winds, being the ATP and associated large-scale atmospheric circulation.