Detection of the secondary meridional circulation associated with the quasi-biennial oscillation

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The quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) signal in stratospheric zonal and meridional wind, temperature, and geopotential height fields is analyzed based on the use of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis (1958-2001). The multitaper method-singular value decomposition (MTM-SVD), a multivariate frequency domain analysis method, is used to detect significant and spatially coherent narrowband oscillations. The QBO is found as the most intense signal in the stratospheric zonal wind. Then, the MTM-SVD method is used to determine the patterns induced by the QBO at every stratospheric level and data field. The secondary meridional circulation associated with the QBO is identified in the obtained patterns. This circulation can be characterized by negative (positive) temperature anomalies associated with adiabatic rising (sinking) motions over zones of easterly (westerly) wind shear and over the subtropics and midlatitudes, while meridional convergence and divergence levels are found separated by a level of maximum zonal wind shear. These vertical and meridional motions form quasi-symmetric circulation cells over both hemispheres, though less intense in the Southern Hemisphere.
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