92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Thursday, 26 January 2012
The Roles of Convective Superbursts and Energy Conversion Processes in the Genesis of Cape Verde Hurricanes From African Easterly Waves
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
Robert S. Ross, Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science, Tallahassee, FL; and T. N. Krishnamurti and S. Pattnaik

This paper defines a mechanism for the genesis of tropical cyclones from African easterly waves (AEWs) over the eastern Atlantic, so-called Cape Verde storms. Convective “superbursts” produce strong diabatic heating, which then strengthens the African easterly jet (AEJ), leading to enhanced barotropic energy conversions, which occur at the critical developmental stages of the system.

Diabatic heating is calculated using the Ertel isentropic potential vorticity (IPV) equation, while energy conversions are determined using energy equations first derived by Lorenz. The genesis mechanism is developed from studying Hurricane Bill of 2009, as well as Tropical Storm Debby, Hurricane Helene, and a non-developing AEW, all from the 2006 NAMMA field experiment, using FNL analyses and WRF-ARW model simulations.

A striking and singular maximum in the diabatic heating due to the convective superburst is shown to precede by 24-36 hours a pronounced maximum in positive barotropic energy conversion, which is demonstrated to occur simultaneously with the strengthening of the AEJ. The maximum in barotropic energy conversion is documented to occur in the developmental stages of the system, typically in the depression or early storm stages.

A physical mechanism is developed to explain how a mesoscale convective superburst can lead subsequently to an enhanced synoptic scale AEJ over the eastern Atlantic, an enhanced jet that is critical to the genesis mechanism.

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