INTERTROPICAL CONVERGENCE ZONE
The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) is the area encircling the earth near the equator where winds originating in the northern and southern hemispheres come together. Consequences of the ITCZ's movement are the "monsoon seasons" that affect areas in the tropics, as well as the formation of tropical storms during the local hemispheric summer (north or south of the equator). Navigators in the age of sail learned to utilize the "trade winds" that blow to the east along the edge of the ITCZ. The ITCZ was originally identified from the 1920s to the 1940s as the "Intertropical Front" (ITF), but after the recognition in the 1940s and 1950s of the significance of wind field convergence in tropical weather production, the term "ITCZ" was then applied. Weather phenomenon formed when trade winds converge in tropics and rise to form rain (nimbus) clouds. ITCZ is characterized by heavy rainfall and is responsible for most of the precipitation in Africa. Where the ITCZ is drawn into and merges with a monsoonal circulation, it is sometimes referred to as a monsoon trough, a usage more common in Australia and parts of Asia. In the seamen's speech the zone is referred as the doldrums because of its erratic weather patterns with stagnant calms and violent thunderstorms.
The ITCZ appears as a band of clouds, usually thunderstorms, that circle the globe near the equator. In the Northern Hemisphere, the trade winds move in a southwestern direction from the northeast, while in the Southern Hemisphere, they move northwestward from the southeast. When the ITCZ is positioned north or south of the equator, these directions change according to the Coriolis effect imparted by the rotation of the earth. For instance, when the ITCZ is situated north of the equator, the southeast trade wind changes to a southwest wind as it crosses the equator. The ITCZ is formed by vertical motion largely appearing as convective activity of thunderstorms driven by solar heating, which effectively draw air in; these are the trade winds. The ITCZ is effectively a tracer of the
ascending branch of the Hadley cell, and is wet. The dry descending branch is the horse latitudes. The location of the intertropical convergence zone varies over time. Over land, it moves back and forth across the equator following the sun's zenith point. Over the oceans, where the convergence zone is better defined, the seasonal cycle is more subtle, as the convection is constrained by the distribution of ocean temperatures. Sometimes, a double ITCZ forms, with one located north and another south of the equator. When this occurs, a narrow ridge of high pressure forms between the two convergence zones, one of which is usually stronger than the other. •
Doldrums- An area of calm found at the equator. Also called the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) •
Tropical Easterlies - When warm air from the equator rises, it cools, and flows back toward the equator. It appears to flow to the west because of the Coriolis Effect. •
Prevailing Westerlies - When air moves toward the poles, it flows from west to east. •
Polar Easterlies - Air over the poles cools and sinks back down, it eventually returns to the equator.
South Pacific Convergence Zone
The South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ) is a reverse-oriented, or west-northwest to east-southeast aligned, trough extending from the west Pacific warm pool southeastwards towards French Polynesia. It lies just south of the Equator during the Southern hemisphere warm season, but can be more extratropical in nature, especially east of the International Date Line. It is considered the largest and most important piece of the ITCZ, and has the least dependence upon heating from a nearby landmass during the summer than any other portion of the monsoon trough. The southern ITCZ in the southeast Pacific and southern Atlantic, known as the SITCZ, occurs during the Southern hemisphere fall between 3° and 10° south...
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