Observations of Seven African Easterly Waves in the East Atlantic during 2006

Jonathan Zawislak Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

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Edward J. Zipser Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

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Abstract

The African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses (AMMA) experiment and its downstream NASA extension, NAMMA, provide an unprecedented detailed look at the vertical structure of consecutive African easterly waves. During August and September 2006, seven easterly waves passed through the NAMMA domain: two waves developed into Tropical Cyclones Debby and Helene, two waves did not develop, and three waves were questionable in their role in the development of Ernesto, Florence, and Gordon. NCEP Global Data Assimilation System (GDAS) analyses are used to describe the track of both the vorticity maxima and midlevel wave trough associated with each of the seven easterly waves. Dropsonde data from NAMMA research flights are used to describe the observed wind structure and as a tool to evaluate the accuracy of the GDAS to resolve the structure of the wave. Finally, satellite data are used to identify the relationship between convection and the organization of the wind structure. Results support a necessary distinction between the large-scale easterly wave trough and smaller-scale vorticity centers within the wave. An important wave-to-wave variability is observed: for NAMMA waves, those waves that have a characteristically high-amplitude wave trough and well-defined low-level circulations (well organized) may contain less rainfall, do not necessarily develop, and are well resolved in the analysis, whereas low-amplitude (weakly organized) NAMMA waves may have stronger vorticity centers and large persistent raining areas and may be more likely to develop, but are not well resolved in the analysis.

Corresponding author address: Jonathan Zawislak, Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Utah, 135 South 1460 East, Rm. 819, Salt Lake City, UT 84112. Email: jon.zawislak@utah.edu

This article included in the TCSP NAMMA special collection.

Abstract

The African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses (AMMA) experiment and its downstream NASA extension, NAMMA, provide an unprecedented detailed look at the vertical structure of consecutive African easterly waves. During August and September 2006, seven easterly waves passed through the NAMMA domain: two waves developed into Tropical Cyclones Debby and Helene, two waves did not develop, and three waves were questionable in their role in the development of Ernesto, Florence, and Gordon. NCEP Global Data Assimilation System (GDAS) analyses are used to describe the track of both the vorticity maxima and midlevel wave trough associated with each of the seven easterly waves. Dropsonde data from NAMMA research flights are used to describe the observed wind structure and as a tool to evaluate the accuracy of the GDAS to resolve the structure of the wave. Finally, satellite data are used to identify the relationship between convection and the organization of the wind structure. Results support a necessary distinction between the large-scale easterly wave trough and smaller-scale vorticity centers within the wave. An important wave-to-wave variability is observed: for NAMMA waves, those waves that have a characteristically high-amplitude wave trough and well-defined low-level circulations (well organized) may contain less rainfall, do not necessarily develop, and are well resolved in the analysis, whereas low-amplitude (weakly organized) NAMMA waves may have stronger vorticity centers and large persistent raining areas and may be more likely to develop, but are not well resolved in the analysis.

Corresponding author address: Jonathan Zawislak, Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Utah, 135 South 1460 East, Rm. 819, Salt Lake City, UT 84112. Email: jon.zawislak@utah.edu

This article included in the TCSP NAMMA special collection.

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