Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics

, Volume 105, Issue 3–4, pp 191–210 | Cite as

Regional climate model simulation of the AMMA Special Observing Period #3 and the pre-Helene easterly wave

  • Leonard M. Druyan
  • Matthew Fulakeza
  • Patrick Lonergan
  • Erik Noble
Original Paper


The study examines results of dynamic downscaling of two global analyses: the National Center for Environmental Prediction/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP/NCAR) reanalysis II and the Global Forecast System final analysis (FNL). Downscaling to a 0.5° grid over West Africa and the adjacent Atlantic Ocean is accomplished by each of two regional models, the Regional Model, version 3 (RM3) of the Center for Climate Systems Research and the Weather, Research and Forecasting model (WRF). Simulations are for September 2006, the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) Special Observing Period #3 (SOP-3). The aim of this study is to exploit the increased spatial detail in the simulations and representations of climate fields by the regional models to analyze meteorological systems within the SOP-3 area of interest and time frame. In particular, the paper focuses on the regional models’ representations of the structure and movement of a prominent easterly wave during September 10–13th, the precursor of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Helene. It describes the RM3 simulated structure of the developing storm in terms of circulation, precipitation, vertical motion, cumulus heating rates, and cross-sections of wind and geopotential height anomalies. Simulated cumulus heating rates within the wave’s main precipitation area imply a lowering of the bases of active cumulus in the transition from the African continent to the Atlantic, indicating that the ocean environment promotes greater upward latent heat flux that in turn intensifies overlying storms. RM3 circulation, precipitation patterns, and storm trajectory are reasonably consistent with observational evidence. Experiments show that precipitation rates near 6°N over the eastern North Atlantic are sensitive to vertical thermal stability, such that they are enhanced by warmer in situ sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) and diminished by colder SSTs. However, prescribing colder SST causes increases in precipitation north of 9°N within areas of large scale upward vertical motion where rainfall rates are less sensitive to in situ SSTs. The evaluation of WRF indicates that its storm propagation is too fast over West Africa, where associated WRF precipitation rates are exaggerated, but its performance is improved over the Atlantic.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leonard M. Druyan
    • 1
  • Matthew Fulakeza
    • 1
  • Patrick Lonergan
    • 1
  • Erik Noble
    • 2
  1. 1.NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NYC and Center for Climate Systems ResearchColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.University of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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