Mesoscale features associated with tropical cyclone formations in the Western North Pacific

Cheng Shang Lee, K. K W Cheung*, J. S N Hui, Russell L. Elsberry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


The mesoscale features of 124 tropical cyclone formations in the western North Pacific Ocean during 1999-2004 are investigated through large-scale analyses, satellite infrared brightness temperature (TB), and Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) oceanic wind data. Based on low-level wind flow and surge direction, the formation cases are classified into six synoptic patterns: easterly wave (EW), northeasterly flow (NE), coexistence of northeasterly and southwesterly flow (NE-SW), southwesterly flow (SW), monsoon confluence (MC), and monsoon shear (MS). Then the general convection characteristics and mesoscale convective system (MCS) activities associated with these formation cases are studied under this classification scheme. Convection processes in the EW cases are distinguished from the monsoon-related formations in that the convection is less deep and closer to the formation center. Five characteristic temporal evolutions of the deep oonvection are identified: (i) single convection event, (ii) two convection events, (iii) three convection events, (iv) gradual decrease in TB, and (v) fluctuating TB, or a slight increase in TB before formation. Although no dominant temporal evolution differentiates cases in the six synoptic patterns, evolutions ii and iii seem to be the common routes taken by the monsoon-related formations. The overall percentage of cases with MCS activity at multiple times is 63%, and in 35% of cases more than one MCS coexisted. Most of the MC and MS cases develop multiple MCSs that lead to several episodes of deep convection. These two patterns have the highest percentage of coexisting MCSs such that potential interaction between these systems may play a role in the formation process. The MCSs in the monsoon-related formations are distributed around the center, except in the NE-SW cases in which clustering of MCSs is found about 100-200 km east of the center during the 12 h before formation. On average only one MCS occurs during an EW formation, whereas the mean value is around two for the other monsoon-related patterns. Both the mean lifetime and time of first appearance of MCS in EW are much shorter than those developed in other synoptic patterns, which indicates that the overall formation evolution in the EW case is faster. Moreover, this MCS is most likely to be found within 100 km east of the center 12 h before formation. The implications of these results to internal mechanisms of tropical cyclone formation are discussed in light of other recent mesoscale studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2006-2022
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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