The Role of Convectively Coupled Atmospheric Kelvin Waves on African Easterly Wave Activity

Michael J. Ventrice Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Science, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York

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Chris D. Thorncroft Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Science, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York

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Abstract

The role of convectively coupled atmospheric Kelvin waves (CCKWs) on African easterly wave (AEW) activity is explored over tropical Africa during boreal summer. Examination of the pre-Alberto AEW in 2000 highlights the observation that the convective trigger for the initiation of the AEW was generated by a strong CCKW and that the subsequent intensification of the AEW at the West African coast was associated with a second CCKW. Composite analysis shows that, generally, AEW activity increases during and after the passage of the convectively active phase of strong CCKWs. The increase in AEW activity is consistent with convective triggering at the leading edge of the convective phase of the CCKW. This convective triggering occurs in a region where the background low-level easterly vertical wind shear is increased by the CCKW. As the AEW propagates westward through the convectively active phase of the CCKW, it can develop in an environment favorable for convection. It is also shown that this phase of the CCKW is characterized by enhanced meridional vorticity gradients in the core of the African easterly jet suggesting that enhanced mixed barotropic–baroclinic growth may also be responsible for enhanced AEW activity there.

Corresponding author address: Michael Ventrice, University at Albany, State University of New York, 1400 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12222. E-mail: mventrice@albany.edu

Abstract

The role of convectively coupled atmospheric Kelvin waves (CCKWs) on African easterly wave (AEW) activity is explored over tropical Africa during boreal summer. Examination of the pre-Alberto AEW in 2000 highlights the observation that the convective trigger for the initiation of the AEW was generated by a strong CCKW and that the subsequent intensification of the AEW at the West African coast was associated with a second CCKW. Composite analysis shows that, generally, AEW activity increases during and after the passage of the convectively active phase of strong CCKWs. The increase in AEW activity is consistent with convective triggering at the leading edge of the convective phase of the CCKW. This convective triggering occurs in a region where the background low-level easterly vertical wind shear is increased by the CCKW. As the AEW propagates westward through the convectively active phase of the CCKW, it can develop in an environment favorable for convection. It is also shown that this phase of the CCKW is characterized by enhanced meridional vorticity gradients in the core of the African easterly jet suggesting that enhanced mixed barotropic–baroclinic growth may also be responsible for enhanced AEW activity there.

Corresponding author address: Michael Ventrice, University at Albany, State University of New York, 1400 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12222. E-mail: mventrice@albany.edu
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