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Characterizing the Synoptic Expression of the Angola Low

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  • 1 School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Abstract

The Angola low is a key feature of the southern Africa wet season atmosphere that influences precipitation across the continent. This paper uses ERA-Interim to show that the synoptic expression of the Angola low is a combination of dry heat lows and moist tropical low pressure systems. The Angola heat low and Angola tropical low composites are contrasted against similar lows observed in other continental tropical regions and found to be broadly comparable. The implications that the distinction between dry and moist events has for the interannual relationship among the Angola low, precipitation, and ENSO are examined. The tropical lows exhibit unusual semistationary behavior by lingering in the Angola region rather than traveling offshore. This behavior is proposed to be caused by an integrated sea breeze–anabatic wind that enhances (inhibits) cyclonic vorticity stretching and convection inland (near the coast). The combined effect of the heat lows and the anchored tropical lows creates the Angola low in the climatological average. By elucidating the mechanisms of the Angola low, this research improves the foundation of process-based evaluation of southern Africa present and future climate in CMIP and AMIP models.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0017.s1.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Emma Howard, emma.howard@ouce.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

The Angola low is a key feature of the southern Africa wet season atmosphere that influences precipitation across the continent. This paper uses ERA-Interim to show that the synoptic expression of the Angola low is a combination of dry heat lows and moist tropical low pressure systems. The Angola heat low and Angola tropical low composites are contrasted against similar lows observed in other continental tropical regions and found to be broadly comparable. The implications that the distinction between dry and moist events has for the interannual relationship among the Angola low, precipitation, and ENSO are examined. The tropical lows exhibit unusual semistationary behavior by lingering in the Angola region rather than traveling offshore. This behavior is proposed to be caused by an integrated sea breeze–anabatic wind that enhances (inhibits) cyclonic vorticity stretching and convection inland (near the coast). The combined effect of the heat lows and the anchored tropical lows creates the Angola low in the climatological average. By elucidating the mechanisms of the Angola low, this research improves the foundation of process-based evaluation of southern Africa present and future climate in CMIP and AMIP models.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0017.s1.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Emma Howard, emma.howard@ouce.ox.ac.uk

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