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Lisuo Hu, Jing-Jia Luo, Gang Huang, and Matthew C. Wheeler


Central Africa (CA) is identified as a location of a large positive trend of the occurrence of heat waves (HWs) during 1979–2016, appearing to result mostly from a regime shift around the year 2000. Therefore, we study the evolution of synoptic features associated with the occurrence of HW events in CA. It is found that the HW-related circulation is typically characterized by an anomalous convergence in the upper troposphere but there are important differences for HW events occurring in the south region of CA (CA_S) versus the north region (CA_N). For the occurrence of the HW events in CA_S, the anomalous subsidence associated with upper troposphere anomalous convergence is the dominant factor for their occurrence and magnitude: the strong subsidence leads to warming through greater solar insolation. The HW events in CA_S are also accompanied by an anomalous surface anticyclone in the north with anomalous northerly flow transporting heat into the CA_S region. In contrast, although the HW events in CA_N are also associated with upper troposphere anomalous convergence, the intensity of the convergence is weak with small solar insolation. Instead, the anomalous warm advection is the main factor for determining the magnitude of the HW events in CA_N, induced by the prevailing northerly winds acting on the anomalous temperature gradient. Thus, the synoptic features associated with HW events in the CA_N and CA_S are quite different despite their nearby locations. The discovered dominant factors for the HW events in CA can be used to improve the forecast skill.

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