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Potential Vorticity, Easterly Waves, and Eastern Pacific Tropical Cyclogenesis

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  • 1 Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, New York
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Abstract

A significant sign reversal in the meridional potential vorticity gradient was found during the summer of 1991 on the 310-K isentropic surface (near 700 mb) over the Caribbean Sea. The Charney–Stern necessary condition for instability of the mean flow is met in this region. It is speculated that the sign reversal permits either invigoration of African waves or actual generation of easterly waves in the Caribbean.

During the same season, a correlation existed between the strength of the negative potential vorticity gradient in the Caribbean and subsequent cyclogenesis in the eastern Pacific. The meridional PV gradient, convective heating measured by outgoing longwave radiation data, and eastern Pacific cyclogenesis all varied on the timescale of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). It is hypothesized that upstream wave growth in the dynamically unstable region provides the connection between the MJO (or any other convective forcing) and the associated enhanced downstream tropical cyclogenesis.

Corresponding author address: Dr. John Molinari, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science, SUNY at Albany, Earth Science 351, Albany, NY 12222.

Email: molinari@atmos.albany.edu

Abstract

A significant sign reversal in the meridional potential vorticity gradient was found during the summer of 1991 on the 310-K isentropic surface (near 700 mb) over the Caribbean Sea. The Charney–Stern necessary condition for instability of the mean flow is met in this region. It is speculated that the sign reversal permits either invigoration of African waves or actual generation of easterly waves in the Caribbean.

During the same season, a correlation existed between the strength of the negative potential vorticity gradient in the Caribbean and subsequent cyclogenesis in the eastern Pacific. The meridional PV gradient, convective heating measured by outgoing longwave radiation data, and eastern Pacific cyclogenesis all varied on the timescale of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). It is hypothesized that upstream wave growth in the dynamically unstable region provides the connection between the MJO (or any other convective forcing) and the associated enhanced downstream tropical cyclogenesis.

Corresponding author address: Dr. John Molinari, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science, SUNY at Albany, Earth Science 351, Albany, NY 12222.

Email: molinari@atmos.albany.edu

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