A Climatology of Subtropical Cyclones in the South Atlantic

Jenni L. Evans Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

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Aviva Braun Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

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Abstract

A 50-yr climatology (1957–2007) of subtropical cyclones (STs) in the South Atlantic is developed and analyzed. A subtropical cyclone is a hybrid structure (upper-level cold core and lower-level warm core) with associated surface gale-force winds. The tendency for warm season development of North Atlantic STs has resulted in these systems being confused as tropical cyclones (TCs). In fact, North Atlantic STs are a regular source of the incipient vortices leading to North Atlantic TC genesis. In 2004, Hurricane Catarina developed in the South Atlantic and made landfall in Brazil. A TC system had been previously unobserved in the South Atlantic, so the incidence of Catarina highlighted the lack of an ST climatology for the region to provide a context for the likelihood of future systems.

Sixty-three South Atlantic STs are documented over the 50-yr period analyzed in this climatology. In contrast to the North Atlantic, South Atlantic STs occur relatively uniformly throughout the year; however, their preferred location of genesis and mechanisms for this genesis do exhibit some seasonal variability. Rossby wave breaking was identified as the mechanism for the ST vortex initiation for North Atlantic STs. A subset of South Atlantic STs forms via this mechanism, however, an additional mechanism for ST genesis is identified here: lee cyclogenesis downstream of the Andes in the Brazil Current region—an area favorable for convection. This formation mechanism is similar to development of type-2 east coast lows in the Tasman Sea off eastern Australia.

Corresponding author address: Jenni L. Evans, Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, 503 Walker Building, University Park, PA 16802. E-mail: evans@meteo.psu.edu

Abstract

A 50-yr climatology (1957–2007) of subtropical cyclones (STs) in the South Atlantic is developed and analyzed. A subtropical cyclone is a hybrid structure (upper-level cold core and lower-level warm core) with associated surface gale-force winds. The tendency for warm season development of North Atlantic STs has resulted in these systems being confused as tropical cyclones (TCs). In fact, North Atlantic STs are a regular source of the incipient vortices leading to North Atlantic TC genesis. In 2004, Hurricane Catarina developed in the South Atlantic and made landfall in Brazil. A TC system had been previously unobserved in the South Atlantic, so the incidence of Catarina highlighted the lack of an ST climatology for the region to provide a context for the likelihood of future systems.

Sixty-three South Atlantic STs are documented over the 50-yr period analyzed in this climatology. In contrast to the North Atlantic, South Atlantic STs occur relatively uniformly throughout the year; however, their preferred location of genesis and mechanisms for this genesis do exhibit some seasonal variability. Rossby wave breaking was identified as the mechanism for the ST vortex initiation for North Atlantic STs. A subset of South Atlantic STs forms via this mechanism, however, an additional mechanism for ST genesis is identified here: lee cyclogenesis downstream of the Andes in the Brazil Current region—an area favorable for convection. This formation mechanism is similar to development of type-2 east coast lows in the Tasman Sea off eastern Australia.

Corresponding author address: Jenni L. Evans, Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, 503 Walker Building, University Park, PA 16802. E-mail: evans@meteo.psu.edu
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