Simple solutions for the summer shallow atmospheric circulation over North Africa

TitleSimple solutions for the summer shallow atmospheric circulation over North Africa
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsDalu G.A, Gaetani M., Lavaysse C., Flamant C., Evan AT, Baldi M.
JournalQuarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
Volume144
Pagination765-779
Date Published2018/04
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0035-9009
Accession NumberWOS:000443007800011
KeywordsAfrican easterly jet; association; desert heat lows; dust; easterly waves; high; induced tropical circulation; instability regions; jet; Libyan; maintenance; Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences; monsoon; North African winds; precipitation; radiative heating rates; variability; West African high
Abstract

The spring-to-summer shallow atmospheric circulation over North Africa is driven by two desert heat lows (DHLs), one over the Sahara (SHL) and one over Arabia (AHL), with cyclones embedded in the convective layer, capped by mid-tropospheric anticyclones. The aim of this work is to produce a minimal theoretical framework for these dynamical features in terms of Kelvin, mixed and planetary mode solutions to a two-layer Matsuno-Gill model with a lower Rayleigh frictional layer dynamically coupled to an almost frictionless upper layer. Results show that a DHL drives a Walker-like cell with rising air over the low and subsiding air to its west, with the lower-level cyclone to the east of the mid-tropospheric anticyclone, the latter being bounded to the southwest by an unstable easterly jet. These features, related to frictional differences between the two layers, are enhanced by ambient easterly winds. In spring, the stronger SHL drives a cell with rising air over West Africa and subsiding air over the Atlantic. The weaker AHL drives a cell with rising air over Arabia and subsiding air over East Africa. In summer, the stronger AHL drives a cell with rising air over Arabia and subsiding air over Libya, and the weaker SHL drives a cell with rising air over West Sahara and subsiding air over the Atlantic. The concurrent contributions of easterly winds, monsoonal low-level convergence, and seasonal airborne dust warming strengthen the SHL, making its winds stronger than those of the AHL. In addition, a third-order expansion of the Coriolis parameter strengthens the zonal winds and weakens the meridional winds. These contributors strengthen anticyclones over the eastern Mediterranean and to the west of Gibraltar. The ability of the model to represent the main features of the North African atmospheric circulations suggests a potential for better understanding of climate dynamics in connected regions (Mediterranean, Tropical Atlantic).

DOI10.1002/qj.3246
Short TitleQ. J. R. Meteorol. Soc.
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