2020 journal article
The Potential Vorticity Structure and Dynamics of African Easterly Waves
JOURNAL OF THE ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES, 77(3), 871–890.
Abstract The dynamics of African easterly waves (AEWs) are investigated from the perspective of potential vorticity (PV) using data from global reanalysis projects. To a leading order, AEW evolution is governed by four processes: advection of the wave-scale PV by background flow, advection of background PV by the AEW, diabatic forcing due to wave-scale moist convection, and coupling between the wave and background diabatic forcing. Moist convection contributes significantly to the growth of AEWs in the midtroposphere, and to both growth and propagation of AEWs near the surface. The former is associated with stratiform clouds while the latter with deep convection. Moist convection helps maintain a more upright AEW PV column against the background shear, which makes the wave structure conducive for tropical cyclogenesis. It is also argued that—contrary to the hypothesis in some prior studies—the canonical diabatic Rossby wave model is likely not applicable to AEWs.