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Origin and Propagation of a Disturbance Associated with an African Easterly Wave as a Precursor of Hurricane Alberto (2000)

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  • 1 Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
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Abstract

In this study, it is proposed that mesoscale convective complexes (MCCs) and a mesovortex (MV) were embedded within a wavelike disturbance over North Africa that led to the genesis of Hurricane Alberto (2000). The wavelike disturbance observed may be classified as an African easterly wave (AEW). Based on the cloud-top area and brightness values observed from infrared satellite data, four genesis and three lysis stages are identified within a cycle of moist convection associated with the pre-Alberto disturbance. The availability of water vapor is the most essential factor controlling the convective cycle of the pre-Alberto disturbance over the African continent. The presence of significant topography also contributes to the generation or decay of the associated MCCs through regulation of the water vapor supply. Further analysis of Meteosat satellite imagery reveals that the incipient disturbances for 23 of 34 eastern Atlantic tropical cyclones originated from the Ethiopian highlands (EH) region during the period of 1990–2001.

The pre-Alberto disturbance was found to have exhibited characteristics of an AEW. At the EH, there existed two modes of disturbance development: a stationary mode and a propagating mode. The stationary mode corresponded with the generation of moist convection over the EH triggered by diurnally variant sensible heating, while the propagating mode corresponded with the generation and propagation of MVs and mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) from the lee side of the EH over a period of about 2 to 3 days. These components of the disturbance propagated westward together within an AEW train at an average speed of 11.6 m s−1. The average wavelength was roughly estimated to be about 2200 km.

To prove that disturbances generated at the EH are indeed AEWs, the NCAR Regional Climate Model Version 3.0 is adopted to simulate the event. The simulated fields showed that both the propagating wave and stationary mountain wave modes were present, the convection was generated over the EH, and the pre-Alberto disturbance was generated near the lee of the EH. In addition, the convective cycle detected from NCEP reanalysis data was also reflected in the simulated fields. The simulated AEW possesses similar wave characteristics as the observed pre-Alberto disturbance.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Yuh-Lang Lin, Dept. MEAS, NCSU, 1125 Jordan Hall, Faucette Drive, Raleigh, NC 27695-8208. Email: yl_lin@ncsu.edu

Abstract

In this study, it is proposed that mesoscale convective complexes (MCCs) and a mesovortex (MV) were embedded within a wavelike disturbance over North Africa that led to the genesis of Hurricane Alberto (2000). The wavelike disturbance observed may be classified as an African easterly wave (AEW). Based on the cloud-top area and brightness values observed from infrared satellite data, four genesis and three lysis stages are identified within a cycle of moist convection associated with the pre-Alberto disturbance. The availability of water vapor is the most essential factor controlling the convective cycle of the pre-Alberto disturbance over the African continent. The presence of significant topography also contributes to the generation or decay of the associated MCCs through regulation of the water vapor supply. Further analysis of Meteosat satellite imagery reveals that the incipient disturbances for 23 of 34 eastern Atlantic tropical cyclones originated from the Ethiopian highlands (EH) region during the period of 1990–2001.

The pre-Alberto disturbance was found to have exhibited characteristics of an AEW. At the EH, there existed two modes of disturbance development: a stationary mode and a propagating mode. The stationary mode corresponded with the generation of moist convection over the EH triggered by diurnally variant sensible heating, while the propagating mode corresponded with the generation and propagation of MVs and mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) from the lee side of the EH over a period of about 2 to 3 days. These components of the disturbance propagated westward together within an AEW train at an average speed of 11.6 m s−1. The average wavelength was roughly estimated to be about 2200 km.

To prove that disturbances generated at the EH are indeed AEWs, the NCAR Regional Climate Model Version 3.0 is adopted to simulate the event. The simulated fields showed that both the propagating wave and stationary mountain wave modes were present, the convection was generated over the EH, and the pre-Alberto disturbance was generated near the lee of the EH. In addition, the convective cycle detected from NCEP reanalysis data was also reflected in the simulated fields. The simulated AEW possesses similar wave characteristics as the observed pre-Alberto disturbance.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Yuh-Lang Lin, Dept. MEAS, NCSU, 1125 Jordan Hall, Faucette Drive, Raleigh, NC 27695-8208. Email: yl_lin@ncsu.edu

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