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Publication Date
20 January 2015

Linkages of Remote Sea Surface Temperatures and Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Activity Mediated by the African Monsoon



Warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in North Atlantic and Mediterranean (NAMED) can influence tropical cyclone (TC) activity in the tropical East Atlantic by modulating summer convection over western Africa. Analysis of 30 years of observations demonstrates that warm NAMED SST is linked to a strengthening of the Saharan heat low and enhancement of moisture and moist static energy in the lower troposphere over West Africa, which favors a northward displacement of the monsoonal front. These processes also lead to a northward shift of the African easterly jet that introduces an anomalous positive vorticity from western Africa to the main development region (50°W–20°E; 10°N–20°N) of Atlantic TCs. By modulating multiple African monsoon processes, NAMED SST explains comparable and approximately one third of the interannual variability of Atlantic TC frequency as that explained by local wind shear and local SST, respectively, which are known key factors that influence Atlantic TC development.

“Linkages Of Remote Sea Surface Temperatures And Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Activity Mediated By The African Monsoon”. 2015. Geophysical Research Letters 42: 572-578. doi:10.1002/2014GL062600.
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