Intramonth oscillations of Atlantic ITCZ observed in SMAP satellite salinity

The time variability of wind and rainfall in the Atlantic Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) has a wide oscillation spectrum that includes strong intra-month periodicities. These latter short-period oscillations span from individual convection lifecycle events of a few hours to longer pentad and multi-week convective cluster periods. This study reports on measured ITCZ rain variability at periods of a few weeks and its imprint on sea surface salinity (SSS) observed using satellite remote sensing. Despite small amplitude of variations of only 0.1−0.2 psu, these changes are shown to be detectable in radiometer SSS estimates collected by the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite. They are shown to develop in the mid-Atlantic ITCZ latitude band and to follow its seasonal meridional progression. These rain-correlated sea surface signatures appear quasi-synchronously across a wide range of longitude. Both the ITCZ-related seasonal migration and high zonal propagation speeds distinguish these intra-month SSS oscillations from that of tropical instability waves (TIW), with TIWs having periods greater than 1 month and slower westward propagation. While detection of tropical Atlantic TIW salinity signatures using satellite data has received significant attention, it appears that atmospheric freshwater forcing impacts on the upper ocean at these shorter periods represents an additional process resolvable from space using SMAP. Correlation analyses of precipitation and winds indicate that low latitude convection clusters are accompanied by an upward Ekman pumping anomaly, which uplifts saltier water to surface layers diluted by enhanced precipitation. These vertical processes modify the salt balance and change the phase relationship between the oceanic SSS response and the atmospheric freshwater forcing.

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Grodsky Semyon A., Reul Nicolas, Vandemark Douglas, Bentamy Abderrahim (2020). Intramonth oscillations of Atlantic ITCZ observed in SMAP satellite salinity. International Journal Of Remote Sensing. 41 (3). 839-857.,

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