Cluster analysis of tropical cyclone tracks in the Southern Hemisphere
A probabilistic clustering method is used to describe various aspects of tropical cyclone (TC) tracks in the Southern Hemisphere, for the period 1969–2008. A total of 7 clusters are examined: three in the South Indian Ocean, three in the Australian Region, and one in the South Pacific Ocean. Large-scale environmental variables related to TC genesis in each cluster are explored, including sea surface temperature, low-level relative vorticity, deep-layer vertical wind shear, outgoing longwave radiation, El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO). Composite maps, constructed 2 days prior to genesis, show some of these to be significant precursors to TC formation—most prominently, westerly wind anomalies equatorward of the main development regions. Clusters are also evaluated with respect to their genesis location, seasonality, mean peak intensity, track duration, landfall location, and intensity at landfall. ENSO is found to play a significant role in modulating annual frequency and mean genesis location in three of the seven clusters (two in the South Indian Ocean and one in the Pacific). The ENSO-modulating effect on genesis frequency is caused primarily by changes in low-level zonal flow between the equator and 10°S, and associated relative vorticity changes in the main development regions. ENSO also has a significant effect on mean genesis location in three clusters, with TCs forming further equatorward (poleward) during El Niño (La Niña) in addition to large shifts in mean longitude. The MJO has a strong influence on TC genesis in all clusters, though the amount modulation is found to be sensitive to the definition of the MJO.
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- Climate Dynamics