Reale, O, Lau, WK, Kim, KM, Brin, E (2009). Atlantic Tropical Cyclogenetic Processes during SOP-3 NAMMA in the GEOS-5 Global Data Assimilation and Forecast System. JOURNAL OF THE ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES, 66(12), 3563-3578.
This article investigates the role of the Saharan air layer (SAL) in tropical cyclogenetic processes associated with a nondeveloping and a developing African easterly wave observed during the Special Observation Period (SOP-3) phase of the 2006 NASA African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses (NAMMA). The two waves are chosen because they both interact heavily with Saharan air. A global data assimilation and forecast system, the NASA Goddard Earth Observing System, version 5 (GEOS-5), is being run to produce a set of high-quality global analyses, inclusive of all observations used operationally but with additional satellite information. In particular, following previous works by the same authors, the quality-controlled data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) used to produce these analyses have a better coverage than the one adopted by operational centers. From these improved analyses, two sets of 31 five-day high-resolution forecasts, at horizontal resolutions of both half and quarter degrees, are produced. Results indicate that very steep moisture gradients are associated with the SAL in forecasts and analyses, even at great distances from their source over the Sahara. In addition, a thermal dipole in the vertical (warm above, cool below) is present in the nondeveloping case. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites shows that aerosol optical thickness, indicative of more dust as opposed to other factors, is higher in the nondeveloping case. Altogether, results suggest that the radiative effect of dust may play some role in producing a thermal structure less favorable to cyclogenesis. Results also indicate that only global horizontal resolutions on the order of 20-30 km can capture the large-scale transport and the fine thermal structure of the SAL, inclusive of the sharp moisture gradients, reproducing the effect of tropical cyclone suppression that has been hypothesized by previous authors from observational and regional modeling perspectives. These effects cannot be fully represented at lower resolutions, therefore global resolution of a quarter of a degree is a minimum critical threshold necessary to investigate Atlantic tropical cyclogenesis from a global modeling perspective.