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CR 88:119-136 (2022)  -  DOI:

South Pacific Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough (TUTT): variability and impact on the French Polynesian climate

Victoire Laurent1, Keitapu Maamaatuaiahutapu2,*, Marania Hopuare2, Patrick Varney1, Pascal Ortega2

1Météo-France, Direction Interrégionale de Polynésie Française, BP 6005, 98702 Faa’a-Tahiti, French Polynesia
2Laboratoire GePaSud, University of French Polynesia, BP 6570, 98702 Faa'a-Tahiti, French Polynesia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The South Pacific Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough (TUTT) is an elongated trough that appears in summer monthly averaged maps of the upper tropospheric flow over the ocean. We provide the first comprehensive description of the South Pacific TUTT and analyze its impact on the regional climate with 42 yr (1979-2020) of monthly data from ERA5, radiosonde, rain, keraunic data, and lightning flash rate from the Optical Transient Detector-Lightning Imaging Sensor. The data confirm the presence of the TUTT along a southeast-northwest axis from November to May. Located between 100 and 400 hPa, the TUTT is a cold-core with a relative vorticity minimum and a negative geopotential anomaly. Divergent, ascending flow with high relative humidity is found south and west of the TUTT axis, while convergent, descending flow with low relative humidity is observed north and east of the TUTT axis. The seasonal and long-term impacts of the TUTT on the local and regional climate is dependent on its location and its strength. The existence of the TUTT in the South Pacific is strongly dependent on the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phases, being stronger during a strong negative ENSO phase and disappearing from French Polynesia during a strong positive ENSO phase. Genesis of tropical disturbances east of 180°W is possible only if the TUTT is located east of 120°W. The environmental conditions associated with the TUTT, along with lightning and rainfall data from 3 sites in French Polynesia, show that lightning flash rates are higher during a negative ENSO phase than during a positive ENSO phase.

KEY WORDS: Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough · South Pacific · El Niño-Southern Oscillation · ENSO · French Polynesia

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Cite this article as: Laurent V, Maamaatuaiahutapu K, Hopuare M, Varney P, Ortega P (2022) South Pacific Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough (TUTT): variability and impact on the French Polynesian climate. Clim Res 88:119-136.

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