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Robert S. Ross
T. N. Krishnamurti
S. Pattnaik
, and
A. Simon


This paper provides an understanding of essential differences between developing and nondeveloping African easterly waves, which was a major goal of NAMMA, NASA’s field program in the eastern Atlantic, which functioned as an extension of the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) program during 2006.

Three NAMMA waves are studied in detail using FNL analysis: NAMMA wave 2, which developed into Tropical Storm Debby; NAMMA wave 7, which developed into Hurricane Helene; and NAMMA wave 4, which did not develop within the NAMMA domain. Diagnostic calculations are performed on the analyzed fields using energy transformation equations and the isentropic potential vorticity equation.

The results show that the two developing waves possess clear and robust positive barotropic energy conversion in conjunction with positive diabatic heating that includes a singular burst of heating at a particular time in the wave’s history. This positive barotropic energy conversion is facilitated in waves that have a northeast–southwest tilt to the trough axis and a wind maximum to the west of this axis. The nondeveloping wave is found to have the same singular burst of diabatic heating at one point in its history, but development of the wave does not occur due to negative barotropic energy conversion. Such conversion is facilitated by a northwest–southeast tilt to the trough axis and a wind maximum to the east of this axis.

The conclusions about wave development and nondevelopment formulated in this research are viewed as important and significant, but they require additional testing with detailed observational- and numerical-based studies.

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