1NCAS, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, RG6 6BB, UK
2Met Office, Exeter, UK
3University of Washington, Seattle, USA
4UCLA, Los Angeles, USA
5University of Manchester, UK
Abstract. We present a descriptive overview of the meteorology in the south eastern subtropical Pacific (SEP) during the VOCALS-REx intensive observations campaign which was carried out between October and November 2008. Mainly based on data from operational analyses, forecasts, reanalysis, and satellite observations, we focus on spatio-temporal scales from synoptic to planetary. A climatological context is given within which the specific conditions observed during the campaign are placed, with particular reference to the relationships between the large-scale and the regional circulations. The mean circulations associated with the diurnal breeze systems are also discussed. We then provide a summary of the day-to-day synoptic-scale circulation, air-parcel trajectories, and cloud cover in the SEP during VOCALS-REx. Three meteorologically distinct periods of time are identified and the large-scale causes for their different character are discussed. The first period was characterised by significant variability associated with synoptic-scale systems interesting the SEP; while the two subsequent phases were affected by planetary-scale disturbances with a slower evolution. The changes between initial and later periods can be partly explained from the regular march of the annual cycle, but contributions from subseasonal variability and its teleconnections were important. Across the whole of the two months under consideration we find a significant correlation between the depth of the inversion-capped marine boundary layer (MBL) and the amount of low cloud in the area of study. We discuss this correlation and argue that at least as a crude approximation a typical scaling may be applied relating MBL and cloud properties with the large-scale parameters of SSTs and tropospheric temperatures. These results are consistent with previously found empirical relationships involving lower-tropospheric stability.