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The Influence of Convectively Coupled Kelvin Waves on African Easterly Waves in a Wave-Following Framework

Quinton A. LawtonaRosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Florida

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Sharanya J. MajumdaraRosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Florida

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Krista DottererbUniversity at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York

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Christopher ThorncroftbUniversity at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York

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Carl J. Schreck IIIcCooperative Institute for Satellite Earth System Studies, North Carolina State University, Asheville, North Carolina

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Abstract

While considerable attention has been given to how convectively coupled Kelvin waves (CCKWs) influence the genesis of tropical cyclones (TCs) in the Atlantic Ocean, less attention has been given to their direct influence on African easterly waves (AEWs). This study builds a climatology of AEW and CCKW passages from 1981 to 2019 using an AEW-following framework. Vertical and horizontal composites of these passages are developed and divided into categories based on AEW position and CCKW strength. Many of the relationships that have previously been found for TC genesis also hold true for non-developing AEWs. This includes an increase in convective coverage surrounding the AEW center in phase with the convectively enhanced (“active”) CCKW crest, as well as a buildup of relative vorticity from the lower to upper troposphere following this active crest. Additionally, a new finding is that CCKWs induce specific humidity anomalies around AEWs that are qualitatively similar to those of relative vorticity. These modifications to specific humidity are more pronounced when AEWs are at lower latitudes and interacting with stronger CCKWs. While the influence of CCKWs on AEWs is mostly transient and short lived, CCKWs do modify the AEW propagation speed and westward-filtered relative vorticity, indicating that they may have some longer-term influences on the AEW life cycle. Overall, this analysis provides a more comprehensive view of the AEW–CCKW relationship than has previously been established, and supports assertions by previous studies that CCKW-associated convection, specific humidity, and vorticity may modify the favorability of AEWs to TC genesis over the Atlantic.

© 2022 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: Quinton A. Lawton, quinton.lawton@rsmas.miami.edu

Abstract

While considerable attention has been given to how convectively coupled Kelvin waves (CCKWs) influence the genesis of tropical cyclones (TCs) in the Atlantic Ocean, less attention has been given to their direct influence on African easterly waves (AEWs). This study builds a climatology of AEW and CCKW passages from 1981 to 2019 using an AEW-following framework. Vertical and horizontal composites of these passages are developed and divided into categories based on AEW position and CCKW strength. Many of the relationships that have previously been found for TC genesis also hold true for non-developing AEWs. This includes an increase in convective coverage surrounding the AEW center in phase with the convectively enhanced (“active”) CCKW crest, as well as a buildup of relative vorticity from the lower to upper troposphere following this active crest. Additionally, a new finding is that CCKWs induce specific humidity anomalies around AEWs that are qualitatively similar to those of relative vorticity. These modifications to specific humidity are more pronounced when AEWs are at lower latitudes and interacting with stronger CCKWs. While the influence of CCKWs on AEWs is mostly transient and short lived, CCKWs do modify the AEW propagation speed and westward-filtered relative vorticity, indicating that they may have some longer-term influences on the AEW life cycle. Overall, this analysis provides a more comprehensive view of the AEW–CCKW relationship than has previously been established, and supports assertions by previous studies that CCKW-associated convection, specific humidity, and vorticity may modify the favorability of AEWs to TC genesis over the Atlantic.

© 2022 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: Quinton A. Lawton, quinton.lawton@rsmas.miami.edu
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