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The North African coastal low level wind jet a high resolution view

Soares PMM, Lima DCA, Semedo A, Cardoso RM, Cabos W, Sein D
Climate Dynamics. 53, 1211-1230. DOI: 10.1007/s00382-018-4441-7

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Abstract

The North African coastal low-level jet (NACLLJ) lies over the cold Canary current and is synoptically linked to the Azores Anticyclone and to the continental thermal low over the Sahara Desert. Although being one of the most persistent and horizontally extended coastal wind jets, this is the first high resolution modelling effort to investigate the NACLLJ climate. The current study uses a ROM atmospheric hindcast simulation with ~?25 km resolution, for the period 19802014. Additionally, the underlying surface wind features are also scrutinized using the CORDEX-Africa runs. These runs allow the building of a multi-model ensemble for the coastal surface flow. The ROM and the CORDEX-Africa simulations are extensively evaluated showing a good ability to represent the surface winds. The NACLLJ shows a strong seasonal cycle, but, unlike most coastal wind jets, e.g. the California one, it is significantly present all year round, with frequencies of occurrence above 20%. In spring and autumn, the maxima frequencies are around 50%, and reach values above 60% in summer. The location of maximum frequency of occurrence migrates meridionally from season to season, being in winter and spring upwind of Cap-Vert, and in summer and autumn offshore the Western Sahara. Analogously, the lowest jet wind speeds occur in winter, when the median is below 15 m/s. In summer, the jet wind speed median values are ~?20 m/s and the maxima are above 30 m/s. The jet occurs at heights ~?360 m. A momentum balance is pursued disclosing that the regional flow is almost geostrophic, dominated by the pressure gradient and Coriolis force. Over the jet areas the ageostrophy is responsible for the jet acceleration.