A composite study of explosive cyclogenesis in different sectors of the North Atlantic. Part I: Cyclone structure and evolution

C. C. Wang*, J. C. Rogers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


General characteristics of the dynamical and thermal structure and evolution of strong explosive cyclones in the northwestern Atlantic near North America (18 cases) and the extreme northeastern Atlantic near Iceland (19 cases) are compared and contrasted through a composite study. Twice-daily gridded analyses from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts at 2.5° resolution from January 1985 to March 1996 are used. In the process of case selection, it is found that the frequency of rapid cyclogenesis in the Greenland-Iceland region is higher than previously thought, and some of the events can be extremely violent. Many dynamically consistent differences are found when composite cyclones in the two sectors of the North Atlantic are compared. The upper-level forcing that triggers the development in the northeast Atlantic (NEA) is no less intense at the onset of rapid deepening. The NEA cyclones are also associated with lower static stability and locally concentrated but shallower thermal gradient, with less overall environmental baroclinicity. These factors lead to rapid depletion of available potential energy and result in a faster evolution and a shorter life cycle. Therefore, low-level thermal gradient and upper-level forcing components all weaken immediately after rapid deepening. The low-level incipient low in the NEA composite is also stronger, with a distinct potential vorticity (PV) anomaly visible at least 24 h prior to most rapid deepening, and the development produces a more pronounced warm core seclusion. Explosive cyclones in the northwest Atlantic, on the other hand, tend to have a higher stability and a greater amount of environmental baroclinicity, with temperature gradients in a broader area and deeper layers. These factors correspond to slower evolution and a longer life cycle. For cases in the NEA near Iceland, it appears that both upper-level forcing and initial system strengths affect the maximum deepening rate. The close proximity of this region to the high PV reservoir in the lower stratosphere is helpful in the generation of very strong forcing and a violent development under favorable synoptic conditions, when a "parent cyclone" with appreciable strength exists to the north/northeast of the incipient system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1481-1499
Number of pages19
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Jun
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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