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Colorado State University (2012)

Regional analysis of convective systems during the West African monsoon

Guy, Bradley Nicholas

Titre : Regional analysis of convective systems during the West African monsoon

Auteur : Guy, Bradley Nicholas

Université de soutenance : Colorado State University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2012

Résumé partiel
The West African monsoon (WAM) occurs during the boreal summer and is responsible for a majority of precipitation in the northern portion of West Africa. A distinct shift of precipitation, often driven by large propagating mesoscale convective systems, is indicated from satellite observations. Excepting the coarser satellite observations, sparse data across the continent has prevented understanding of mesoscale variability of these important systems. The interaction between synoptic and mesoscale features appears to be an important part of the WAM system. Without an understanding of the mesoscale properties of precipitating systems, improved understanding of the feedback mechanism between spatial scales cannot be attained. Convective and microphysical characteristics of West African convective systems are explored using various observational data sets. Focus is directed toward meso –α and –β scale convective systems to improve our understanding of characteristics at this spatial scale and contextualize their interaction with the larger–scale. Ground-based radar observations at three distinct geographical locations in West Africa along a common latitudinal band (Niamey, Niger [continental], Kawsara, Senegal [coastal], and Praia, Republic of Cape Verde [maritime]) are analyzed to determine convective system characteristics in each domain during a 29 day period in 2006. Ancillary datasets provided by the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses (AMMA) and NASA-AMMA (NAMMA) field campaigns are also used to place the radar observations in context. Results show that the total precipitation is dominated by propagating mesoscale convective systems. Convective characteristics vary according to environmental properties, such as vertical shear, CAPE, and the degree of synoptic forcing. Data are bifurcated based on the presence or absence of African easterly waves. In general, African easterly waves appear to enhance mesoscale convective system strength characteristics (e.g. total precipitation and vertical reflectivity profiles) at the inland and maritime sites. The wave regime also resulted in an increased population of the largest observed mesoscale convective systems observed near the coast, which led to an increase in stratiform precipitation. Despite this increase, differentiation of convective strength characteristics was less obvious between wave and no-wave regimes at the coast. Due to the propagating nature of these advecting mesoscale convective systems, interaction with the regional thermodynamic and dynamic environment appears to result in more variability than enhancements due to the wave regime, independent of location.

Mots Clés : African easterly waves ; mesoscale convective systems ; microphysics ; precipitation ; regional convection ; West African Monsoon

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Page publiée le 29 octobre 2012, mise à jour le 6 septembre 2017