Multiscale interactions in an idealized walker circulation: Mean circulation and intraseasonal variability

Joanna Slawinska, Olivier Pauluis, Andrew J. Majda, Wojciech W. Grabowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A high-resolution cloud-resolving model (CRM) simulation is developed here for a two-dimensional Walker circulation over a planetary-scale domain of 40 000km for an extended period of several hundred days. The Walker cell emerges as the time-averaged statistical steady state with a prescribed sinusoidal sea surface temperature (SST) pattern with a mean temperature of 301.15Kand a horizontal variation of 4K. The circulation exhibits intraseasonal variability on a time scale of about 20 days with quasi-periodic intensification of the circulation and broadening of the convective regime. This variability is closely tied to synoptic-scale systems associated with expansion and contraction of the Walker circulation. An index for the low-frequency variability is developed using an empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis and by regressing various dynamic fields on this index. The low-frequency oscillation has four main stages: a suppressed stage with strengthened midlevel circulation, an intensification phase, an active phase with strong upper-level circulation, and a weakening phase. Various physical processes occurring at these stages are discussed as well as the impact of organized convective systems on the large-scale flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)953-971
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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