Interannual variability of the atlantic hadley circulation in boreal summer and its impacts on tropical cyclone activity

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A novel method was developed to define the regional Hadley circulation (HC) in terms of the meridional streamfunction. The interannual variability of the Atlantic HC in boreal summer was examined using EOF analysis. The leading mode (M1), explaining more than 45% of the variances, is associated with the intensity change of the ITCZ. M1 is significantly correlated to multiple climate factors and has strong impacts on Atlantic tropical cyclone (TC) activity. In the positive (negative) phase of M1, the ITCZ is stronger (weaker) than normal, and more (fewer) TCs form over the main development region (MDR) with a larger (smaller) fraction of storms intensifying into major hurricanes. Analyses showed that the large-scale dynamic and thermodynamic conditions associated with a stronger ITCZ are more favorable for TC activity. The roles of tropical easterly waves in modulating the Atlantic TC activity are highlighted. In the positive phase of M1, the wave activity is significantly enhanced over the MDR and the Caribbean Sea, which can be attributed to stronger coastal convection and mean flow structure changes. In the context of the recently proposed marsupial paradigm, the frequency and structure of wave pouches were examined. In the positive phase of M1, the pouch frequency increases, and the number of pouches with a vertically coherent structure also rises significantly. Adeep and vertically aligned wave pouch has been shown to be highly favorable for TC formation. The HC perspective thus unifies both dynamic and thermodynamic conditions impacting Atlantic TC activity and helps explain the statistical linkages between Atlantic TC activity and different climate factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8529-8544
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Hadley circulation
  • Hurricanes
  • Interannual variability
  • Intertropical convergence zone
  • Streamfunction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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