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Abdou L. Dieng, Laurence Eymard, Saidou M. Sall, Alban Lazar, and Marion Leduc-Leballeur


A large number of Atlantic tropical depressions are generated in the eastern basin in relation to the African easterly wave (AEW) and embedded mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) coming from the African continent. In this paper, the structures of strengthening and dissipating MCSs evolving near the West African coast are analyzed, including the role of the ocean surface conditions in their evolution.

Satellite infrared brightness temperature and meteorological radar data over seven summer seasons between 1993 and 2006 are used to subjectively select 20 cases of strengthening and dissipating MCSs in the vicinity of the Senegal coast. With these observed MCSs, a lagged composite analysis is then performed using Interim ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim) and Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR).

It is shown that the strengthening MCS is generally preceded by prior passage of an AEW near the West African coast. This previous wave trough is associated with a convective cyclonic circulation in the low and middle troposphere, which enhances the southwesterly flow and then provides humidity to the strengthening MCS, located in the vicinity of the subsequent AEW trough. This is favored by the contraction of the wavelength associated with the two troughs. The sea surface contributes to the MCS enhancement through surface evaporation flux. But this contribution is found to be less important than advection of humidity from the previous wave trough. These conditions are almost not found in the dissipating MCS cases, which dissipate in a dry environment dominated by a subsident and anticyclonic circulation, with generally no interaction with a previous wave trough.

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Abdou L. Dieng, Saidou M. Sall, Laurence Eymard, Marion Leduc-Leballeur, and Alban Lazar


In this study, the relationship between trains of African easterly waves (AEWs) and downstream tropical cyclogenesis is studied. Based on 19 summer seasons (July–September from 1990 to 2008) of ERA-Interim reanalysis fields and brightness temperature from the Cloud User Archive, the signature of AEW troughs and embedded convection are tracked from the West African coast to the central Atlantic. The tracked systems are separated into four groups: (i) systems originating from the north zone of the midtropospheric African easterly jet (AEJ), (ii) those coming from the south part of AEJ, (iii) systems that are associated with a downstream trough located around 2000 km westward (termed DUO systems), and (iv) those that are not associated with such a close downstream trough (termed SOLO systems).

By monitoring the embedded 700-hPa-filtered relative vorticity and 850-hPa wind convergence anomaly associated with these families along their trajectories, it is shown that the DUO generally have stronger dynamical structure and statistically have a longer lifetime than the SOLO ones. It is suggested that the differences between them may be due to the presence of the previous intense downstream trough in DUO cases, enhancing the low-level convergence behind them. Moreover, a study of the relationship between system trajectories and tropical depressions occurring between the West African coast and 40°W showed that 90% of tropical depressions are identifiable from the West African coast in tracked systems, mostly in the DUO cases originating from the south zone of the AEJ.

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