A vortex-based perspective of eastern Pacific tropical cyclone formation

Christopher Davis, Chris Snyder, Anthony C. Didlake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Tropical cyclone formation over the eastern Pacific during 2005 and 2006 was examined using primarily global operational analyses from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction. This paper represents a "vortex view" of genesis, adding to previous work on tropical cyclone formation associated with tropical waves. Between 1 July and 30 September during 2005 and 2006, vortices at 900 hPa were tracked and vortex-following diagnostic quantities were computed. Vortices were more abundant during periods of an enhanced "Hadley" circulation with monsoon westerlies around 10°N in the lower troposphere. This zonally confined Hadley circulation was significantly stronger during the genesis of developing vortices. Developing vortices were stronger at the outset, with a deeper potential vorticity maximum, compared to nondeveloping vortices. This implies that developing disturbances Were selected early on by favorable synoptic-scale features. The characteristic time-mean reversal of the meridional gradient of absolute vorticity in the lower troposphere was found to nearly vanish when the aggregate contribution of strong vortices was removed from the time-mean vorticity. This finding implies that it is difficult to unambiguously attribute development to a preexisting enhancement of vorticity on the synoptic scale. The time-mean enhancement of cyclonic vorticity primarily results from the accumulated effect of vortices. It is suggested that horizontal deformation in the background state helps distinguish developing vortices from nondevelopers, and also biases the latitude of development poleward of the climatological ITCZ axis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2461-2477
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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