Serial upstream-propagating mesoscale convective system events over southeastern South America

Vagner Anabor, David J. Stensrud, Osvaldo L.L. De Moraes

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48 Scopus citations


Serial mesoscale convective system (MCS) events with lifetimes over 18 h and up to nearly 70 h are routinely observed over southeastern South America from infrared satellite imagery during the spring and summer. These events begin over the southern La Plata River basin, with individual convective systems generally moving eastward with the cloud-layer-mean wind. However, an important and common subset of these serial MCS events shows individual MCSs moving to the east or southeast, yet the region of convective development as a whole shifts upstream to the north or northwest. Analyses of the composite mean environments from 10 of these upstream-propagating serial MCS events using NCEP-NCAR reanalysis data events indicates that the synoptic conditions resemble those found in mesoscale convective complex environments over the United States. The serial MCS events form within an environment of strong low-level warm advection and strong moisture advection between the surface and 700 hPa from the Amazon region southward. One feature that appears to particularly influence the low-level flow pattern at early times is a strong surface anticyclone located just off the coast of Brazil. At upper levels, the MCSs develop on the anticyclonic side of the entrance region to an upper-level jet. Mean soundings show that the atmosphere is moist from the surface to near 500 hPa, with values of convective available potential energy above 1200 J kg-1 at the time of system initiation. System dissipation and continued upstream propagation to the north and northwest occurs in tandem with a surface high pressure system that crosses the Andes Mountains from the west.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3087-3105
Number of pages19
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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