Kelvin Waves and Tropical Cyclogenesis: A Global Survey
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Kelvin Waves and Tropical Cyclogenesis: A Global Survey

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  • Journal Title:
    Monthly Weather Review
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  • Description:
    Convectively coupled atmospheric Kelvin waves are among the most prominent sources of synoptic-scale rainfall variability in the tropics, but large uncertainties surround their role in tropical cyclogenesis. This study identifies the modulation of tropical cyclones relative to the passage of a Kelvin wave’s peak rainfall (i.e., its crest) in each basin. Tropical cyclogenesis is generally inhibited for 3 days before the crest and enhanced for 3 days afterward. Composites of storms forming in the most favorable lags illustrate the dynamical impacts of the waves. In most basins, the tropical cyclone actually forms during the convectively suppressed phase of the wave. The 850-hPa equatorial westerly anomalies provide the cyclonic vorticity for the nascent storm, and 200-hPa easterly anomalies enhance the outflow. The wind anomalies persist at both levels longer than the Kelvin wave’s period and are often related to the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). The onset of these wind anomalies occurs with the Kelvin wave passage, while the MJO apparently establishes their duration. Many of the composites also show evidence of an easterly wave from which the tropical cyclone develops. The composite easterly wave amplifies or even initiates within the Kelvin wave crest. These results show the importance of Kelvin waves interacting with the MJO and easterly waves during tropical cyclogenesis. Given that Kelvin waves often circumnavigate the globe, these results show promise for long-range forecasting of tropical cyclogenesis in all basins.
  • Source:
    Monthly Weather Review, 143(10), 3996-4011
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