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Vertical velocity on the equator in the western Pacific warm pool is investigated using data from the Coupled Ocean‐Atmosphere Response Experiment enhanced monitoring array (EMA) centered at 0°, 156°E. The data consist of hourly subsurface horizontal velocity time series from August 1991 until April 1994. Vertical velocity is calculated using horizontal velocity components and the application of the continuity equation. During the first year, from March 1992 until February 1993, data are available from five moorings of the EMA and thus provide nine different combinations of moorings from which to calculate vertical velocity. Four moorings were available during the remaining time period. Random errors are found to be < 10−5 m s−1, while systematic errors (finite difference error, systematic instrument error, and error due to surface extrapolation) may be larger. It is suggested that errors, including finite difference errors, are not larger than the vertical velocity estimate. The estimates of vertical velocity are valid on spatial scales the size of the array (∼400 km) and timescales longer than a few days. They reveal a seasonal cycle manifested during a moderate El Niño. Results indicate upwelling, on average from 70 m down to 250 m over the 2 year time period, being slightly stronger in 1992 coincident with the stronger El Niño year. The divergence of horizontal velocity components, resulting in positive vertical velocity, is due to geostrophic divergence on the equator produced from a westward directed zonal pressure gradient force. Meridional divergence and zonal wind stress are uncorrelated, suggesting that Ekman convergence due to local westerly winds is only of partial influence. Consequently, downwelling is not found near the surface, where contributions from local winds and geostrophic divergence are in opposition. This estimate of vertical velocity indicates that water is upwelled in the warm pool from much deeper than but with comparable magnitude to the central and eastern Pacific.

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Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 106, issue C5, p. 8989-9003

Copyright 2001 by the American Geophysical Union.