Tropical–Extratropical Interactions over Southern Africa: Three Cases of Heavy Summer Season Rainfall

Hart, N. C. G.; Reason, C. J. C.; Fauchereau, N.
July 2010
Monthly Weather Review;Jul2010, Vol. 138 Issue 7, p2608
Academic Journal
The synoptic evolution of three tropical–extratropical (TE) interactions, each responsible for extreme rainfall events over southern Africa, is discussed in detail. Along with the consideration of previously studied events, common features of these heavy rainfall producing tropical temperate troughs (TTTs) over southern Africa are discussed. It is found that 2 days prior to an event, northeasterly moisture transports across Botswana, set up by the Angola low, are diverted farther south into the semiarid region of subtropical southern Africa. The TTTs reach full maturity as a TE cloud band, rooted in the central subcontinent, which is triggered by upper-level divergence along the leading edge of an upper-tropospheric westerly wave trough. Convection and rainfall within the cloud band is supported by poleward moisture transports with subtropical air rising as it leaves the continent and joins the midlatitude westerly flow. It is shown that these systems fit within a theoretical framework describing similar TE interactions found globally. Uplift forcing for the extreme rainfall of each event is investigated. Unsurprisingly, quasigeostrophic uplift is found to dominate in the midlatitudes with convective processes strongest in the subtropics. Rainfall in the semiarid interior of South Africa appears to be a result of quasigeostrophically triggered convection. Investigation of TTT formation in the context of planetary waves shows that early development is sometimes associated with previous anticyclonic wave breaking south of the subcontinent, with full maturity of TTTs occurring as a potential vorticity trough approaches the continent from the west. Sensitivity to upstream wave perturbations and effects on anticyclonic wave breaking in the South Indian Ocean are also observed.


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