Historical and projected eastern Pacific and Intra-Americas Sea TD-wave activity in a selection of IPCC AR5 models

Yolande L. Serra, Kerrie Geil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The tracks of westward-propagating synoptic disturbances across the Intra-Americas Sea (IAS) and far-eastern Pacific, known as easterly waves or tropical depression (TD) waves, are an important feature of the region's climate. They are associated with heavy rainfall events, seed the majority of tropical cyclones, and contribute to the mean rainfall across the region. This study examines the ability of current climate models (CMIP5) to simulate TD-wave activity and associated environmental factors across the IAS and far-eastern Pacific as compared to reanalysis. Model projections for the future are then compared with the historical model experiment to investigate the southward shift in CMIP5 track density and the environmental factors that may contribute to it. While historical biases in TD-wave track-density patterns are well correlated with model biases in sea surface temperature and midlevel moisture, the projected southward shift of the TD track density by the end of the twenty-first century in CMIP5 models is best correlated with changes in deep wind shear and midlevel moisture. In addition, the genesis potential index is found to be a good indicator of both present and future regions of high TD-wave track density for the models in this region. This last result may be useful for understanding the more complex relationship between tropical cyclones and this index in models found in other studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2269-2294
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2017


  • Climate models
  • Model errors
  • Synoptic climatology
  • Tropical variability
  • Waves, atmospheric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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