Dynamics-aerosol-chemistry-cloud interactions in West Africa
Research Publications
Precipitative Processes
17 April 2019
Interactions between convection and a moist vortex associated with an extreme rainfall event over southern West Africa.
Publication: AMS Monthly Weather review ()
DOI Number: 10.1175/MWR-D-18-0396.1
Author: Maranan, M., A.H. Fink, P. Knippertz, S.D. Francis, A.B. Akpo, G. Jegede, and C. Yorke
Abstract:
An intense mesoscale convective system (MCS) in the Guinea Coast region caused one of the highest ever recorded daily rainfall amounts at the Nigerian station Abakaliki on 12 June 2016 (223.5 mm). This paper provides a detailed analysis of the meso- and synoptic-scale factors leading to this event, including some so far undocumented dynamical aspects for southern West Africa. The MCS formed over the Darfur Mountains due to diurnal heating, then moved southwestward along a mid- to lower-tropospheric trough, and developed into a classical West African squall line in a highly sheared environment with pronounced midlevel dryness. Strong moisture flux convergence over Nigeria prior to the MCS passage led to extreme values in precipitable water and was caused by the formation of a local, short-lived heat low. According to the pressure tendency equation, the latter resulted from tropospheric warming due to MCS-forced subsidence as well as surface insolation in the resulting almost cloud-free atmosphere. In an extremely moist environment, the MCS strongly intensified and initiated the formation of a lower-tropospheric vortex, which resulted in a deceleration of the MCS and high rainfall accumulation at Abakaliki. Following the vorticity equation, the vortex formation was realized through strong low-level vortex stretching and upper-level vertical vorticity advection related to the MCS, which became “dynamically large” as measured by the Rossby radius of deformation. Eventually, moisture supply and lifting associated with the vortex are suggested to promote the longevity of the MCS during the subsequent westward movement along the Guinea Coast.