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African easterly wave variability and its relationship to Atlantic tropical cyclone activity

Thorncroft, C. and Hodges, K. I. (2001) African easterly wave variability and its relationship to Atlantic tropical cyclone activity. Journal of Climate, 14 (6). pp. 1166-1179. ISSN 1520-0442

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/1520-0442(2001)014<1166:AEWVAI>2.0.CO;2


Automatic tracking of vorticity centers in European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts analyses has been used to develop a 20-yr climatology of African easterly wave activity. The tracking statistics at 600 and 850 mb confirm the complicated easterly wave structures present over the African continent. The rainy zone equatorward of 15 degreesN is dominated by 600-mb activity, and the much drier Saharan region poleward of 15 degreesN is more dominated by 850-mb activity. Over the Atlantic Ocean there is just one storm track with the 600- and 850-mb wave activity collocated. Based on growth/decay and genesis statistics, it appears that the 850-mb waves poleward of 15 degreesN over land generally do not get involved with the equatorward storm track over the ocean. Instead, there appears to be significant development of 850-mb activity at the West African coast in the rainy zone around (10 degreesN, 10 degreesW), which, it is proposed, is associated with latent heat release. Based on the tracking statistics, it has been shown that there is marked interannual variability in African easterly wave (AEW) activity. It is especially marked at the 850-mb level at the West African coast between about 10 degrees and 15 degreesN, where the coefficient of variation is 0.29. For the period between 1985 and 1998, a notable positive correlation is seen between this AEW activity and Atlantic tropical cyclone activity. This correlation is particularly strong for the postreanalysis period between 1994 and 1998. This result suggests that Atlantic tropical cyclone activity may be influenced by the number of AEWs leaving the West African coast, which have significant low-level amplitudes, and not simply by the total number of AEWs.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Environmental Systems Science Centre
ID Code:179
Publisher:American Meteorological Society

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