Abstract

An African easterly wave (AEW) and associated mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) dataset has been created and used to evaluate the propagation of MCSs, AEWs, and especially, the propagation of MCSs relative to the AEW they are associated with (i.e., wave-relative framework). The thermodynamic characteristics of AEW-MCS systems are also analyzed. The analysis is done for both AEW-MCS systems that develop into tropical cyclones and those that do not to quantify significant differences. It is shown that developing AEWs over West Africa are associated with a larger number of Convective Cloud Clusters (CCCs; squall line-type systems) than non-developing AEWs. The MCSs of developing AEWs propagate at the same speed of the AEW trough in addition to being in phase with the trough, whereas convection associated with non-developing AEWs over West Africa moves faster than the trough and positioned south of it. These differences become important for the intensification of the AEW vortex as this slower-moving convection, i.e. moving at the same speed of the AEW trough, spends more time supplying moisture and latent heat to the AEW vortex supporting its further intensification. An analysis of the rainfall rate (MCS intensity), MCS area and latent heating rate contribution reveals that there are statistically significant differences between developing AEWs and non-developing AEWs, specially over West Africa where the fraction of extremely large MCS areas associated with developing AEWs is larger than for non-developing AEWs.

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