Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Role of equatorial waves in tropical cyclogenesis
by Schreck, Carl J., III, Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2010, 160; 3418475
Abstract (Summary)

Tropical cyclones typically form within preexisting wavelike disturbances that couple with convection. Using Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) multisatellite rainfall estimates, this study determines the relative number of tropical cyclones that can be attributed to various wave types, including the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO), Kelvin waves, equatorial Rossby (ER) waves, mixed Rossby–gravity (MRG) waves, and tropical depression (TD)-type disturbances. Tropical cyclogenesis is attributed to an equatorial wave’s convection when the filtered rainfall anomaly exceeds a threshold value at the genesis location.

More storms are attributed to TD-type disturbances than to any other wave type in all of the Northern Hemisphere basins. In the Southern Hemisphere, however, ER waves and TD-type disturbances are equally important as precursors. Fewer storms are attributed to MRG waves, Kelvin waves, and the MJO in every basin. Although relatively few storms are attributed to the MJO, tropical cyclogenesis is 2.6 times more likely in its convective phase compared with its suppressed phase. This modulation arises in part because each equatorial wave type is amplified within MJO’s convective phase. The amplification significantly increases the probability that these waves will act as tropical cyclone precursors.

A case study from June 2002 illustrates the effects of a series of Kelvin waves on two tropical cyclone formations. These waves were embedded in the convective phase of the MJO. Together, the MJO and the Kelvin waves preconditioned the low-level environment for cyclogenesis. The first Kelvin wave weakened the trade easterlies, while the subsequent waves created monsoon westerlies near the equator. These westerlies provided the background cyclonic vorticity within which both storms developed.

The effects of tropical cyclone-related rainfall anomalies are also investigated. In the wavenumber–frequency spectrum for rainfall, tropical cyclones can inflate the power for shorter wavelength westward propagating waves by up to 27%. This spectrum contains signals from all longitudes, but the greatest contamination occurs in regions like the Philippines where tropical cyclones are most frequent. Here, tropical cyclones contribute more than 40% of the rainfall variance in each filter band. To mitigate these effects, tropical cyclone-related anomalies were removed before filtering in this study.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Molinari, John
Commitee: Bosart, Lance, Mohr, Karen, Roundy, Paul, Sobel, Adam, Thorncroft, Chris
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Earth and Atmospheric Sciences-Athmospheric Science
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 71/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Atmospheric sciences
Keywords: Equatorial waves, Kelvin waves, Madden-Julian oscillation, Rainfall, Tropical cyclogenesis, Tropical cyclones
Publication Number: 3418475
ISBN: 9781124168883
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