Atmospheric signature of the Agulhas current
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonGeophysical Research Letters. 2018, 45 (10), 5185-5193. 10.1029/2018GL077042
Western boundary currents play an important role in the climate system by transporting heat poleward and releasing it to the atmosphere. While their influence on extratropical storms and oceanic rainfall is becoming appreciated, their coastal influence is less known. Using satellite and climate reanalysis data sets and a regional atmospheric model, we show that the Agulhas Current is a driver of the observed band of rainfall along the southeastern African coast and above the Agulhas Current. The Agulhas current's warm core is associated with sharp gradients in sea surface temperature and sea level pressure, a convergence of low-level winds, and a co-located band of precipitation. Correlations among wind convergence, sea level pressure, and sea surface temperature indicate that these features show high degree of similarity to those in the Gulf Stream region. Model experiments further indicate that the Agulhas Current mostly impacts convective rainfall.