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The Dynamics of the West African Monsoon. Part V: The Detection and Role of the Dominant Modes of Convectively Coupled Equatorial Rossby Waves

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  • 1 LOCEAN/IPSL, IRD, UPMC, Paris, France
  • | 2 EQECAT, Paris, France
  • | 3 LATMOS/IPSL, CNRS, UPMC, Paris, France
  • | 4 LOCEAN/IPSL, IRD, UPMC, Paris, France
  • | 5 NOAA/ESRL/Physical Sciences Division, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

This study is the last in a series of papers addressing the dynamics of the West African summer monsoon at intraseasonal time scales between 10 and 90 days. The signals of convectively coupled equatorial Rossby (ER) waves within the summer African monsoon have been investigated after filtering NOAA outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) data within a box delineated by the dispersion curves of the theoretical ER waves. Two families of waves have been detected in the 10–100-day periodicity band by performing a singular spectrum analysis on a regional index of ER-filtered OLR. For each family the first EOF mode has been retained to focus on the main convective variability signal.

Within the periodicity band of 30–100 days, an ER wave pattern with an approximate wavelength of 13 500 km has been depicted. This ER wave links the MJO mode in the Indian monsoon sector with the main mode of convective variability over West and central Africa. This confirms the investigations carried out in previous studies.

Within the 10–30-day periodicity band, a separate ER wave pattern has been highlighted in the African monsoon system with an approximate wavelength of 7500 km, a phase speed of 6 m s−1, and a period of 15 days. The combined OLR and atmospheric circulation pattern looks like a combination of ER wave solutions with meridional wavenumbers of 1 and 2. Its vertical baroclinic profile suggests that this wave is forced by the deep convective heating. Its initiation in terms of OLR modulation is detected north of Lake Victoria, extending northward and then propagating westward along the Sahel latitudes.

The Sahel mode identified in previous studies corresponds to the second main mode of convective variability within the 10–30-day periodicity band, and this has also been examined. Its pattern and evolution look like the first-mode ER wave pattern and they are temporally correlated with a coefficient of +0.6. About one-third of the Sahel mode events are concomitant with an ER wave occurrence. The main difference between these two signals consists of a stronger OLR and circulation modulation of the Sahel mode over East and central Africa. Thus, the Sahel mode occurrence and its westward propagation could be explained in part by atmospheric dynamics associated with the ER waves and in part by land surface interactions, as shown in other studies.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Serge Janicot, Boite 100, 4 Place Jussieu, LOCEAN/IPSL, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 75252 Paris CEDEX 05, France. Email: serge.janicot@locean-ipsl.upmc.fr

Abstract

This study is the last in a series of papers addressing the dynamics of the West African summer monsoon at intraseasonal time scales between 10 and 90 days. The signals of convectively coupled equatorial Rossby (ER) waves within the summer African monsoon have been investigated after filtering NOAA outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) data within a box delineated by the dispersion curves of the theoretical ER waves. Two families of waves have been detected in the 10–100-day periodicity band by performing a singular spectrum analysis on a regional index of ER-filtered OLR. For each family the first EOF mode has been retained to focus on the main convective variability signal.

Within the periodicity band of 30–100 days, an ER wave pattern with an approximate wavelength of 13 500 km has been depicted. This ER wave links the MJO mode in the Indian monsoon sector with the main mode of convective variability over West and central Africa. This confirms the investigations carried out in previous studies.

Within the 10–30-day periodicity band, a separate ER wave pattern has been highlighted in the African monsoon system with an approximate wavelength of 7500 km, a phase speed of 6 m s−1, and a period of 15 days. The combined OLR and atmospheric circulation pattern looks like a combination of ER wave solutions with meridional wavenumbers of 1 and 2. Its vertical baroclinic profile suggests that this wave is forced by the deep convective heating. Its initiation in terms of OLR modulation is detected north of Lake Victoria, extending northward and then propagating westward along the Sahel latitudes.

The Sahel mode identified in previous studies corresponds to the second main mode of convective variability within the 10–30-day periodicity band, and this has also been examined. Its pattern and evolution look like the first-mode ER wave pattern and they are temporally correlated with a coefficient of +0.6. About one-third of the Sahel mode events are concomitant with an ER wave occurrence. The main difference between these two signals consists of a stronger OLR and circulation modulation of the Sahel mode over East and central Africa. Thus, the Sahel mode occurrence and its westward propagation could be explained in part by atmospheric dynamics associated with the ER waves and in part by land surface interactions, as shown in other studies.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Serge Janicot, Boite 100, 4 Place Jussieu, LOCEAN/IPSL, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 75252 Paris CEDEX 05, France. Email: serge.janicot@locean-ipsl.upmc.fr

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