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L'article du mois (février 2012)

Tropical-temperate interactions over southern Africa simulated by a regional climate model

par Nicolas Vigaud, Benjamin Pohl et Julien Crétat, accepté en Janvier 2011 dans la revue Climate Dynamics. The Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) forced by ERA40 re-analyses, is used to examine, at regional scale, the role of key features of the local atmospheric circulation on the origin and development of Tropical Temperate Troughs (TTTs) representing a major contribution to South African rainfall during austral summer. A cluster analysis applied on 1971-2000 ERA40 and WRF simulated daily Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) reveals for the November to February season three coherent regimes characteristic of TTTs over the region. Analyses of WRF simulated TTTs suggest that their occurrence is primarily linked with mid-latitude westerly waves and their phasing. Ensemble experiments designed for the case of austral summer 1996/1997 allow to examine the reproducibility of TTT events. The results obtained illustrate the importance of westerly waves phasing regarding the persistence of rain-producing continental TTT events. Moreover, oceanic surface conditions prevailing over the Agulhas current regions of the South West Indian Ocean (SWIO) are also found to influence TTT persistence for regional experiments with an oceanic mixed layer, warmer sea surface temperatures being associated with increased moisture advection from the SWIO where latent heat release is enhanced, favoring baroclinic instability and thus sustaining convection activity locally.

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