Subtropical Cyclones over the Southwestern South Atlantic: Climatological Aspects and Case Study
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Hurricane Catarina (2004) and subtropical storm Anita (2010) called attention to the development of subtropical cyclones (SCs) over the South Atlantic basin. Besides strong and organized storms, a large number of weaker, shallower cyclones with both extratropical and tropical characteristics form in the region, impacting the South American coast. The main focus of this study is to simulate a climatology of subtropical cyclones and their synoptic pattern over the South Atlantic, proposing a broader definition of these systems. In addition, a case study is presented to discuss the main characteristics of one weak SC. The Interim ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim) and NCEP-NCAR reanalysis are used to construct the 33-yr (1979-2011) climatology, and a comparison between them is established. Both reanalyses show good agreement in the SCs' intensity, geographical distribution, and seasonal variability, but the interannual variability is poorly correlated. Anomaly composites for austral summer show that subtropical cyclogenesis occurs under a dipole-blocking pattern in upper levels. Upward motion is enhanced by the vertical temperature gradient between a midtropospheric cold cutoff low/trough and the intense low-level warm air advection by the South Atlantic subtropical high. Turbulent fluxes in the cyclone region are not above average during cyclogenesis, but the subtropical high flow advects great amounts of moisture from distant regions to fuel the convective activity. Although most of the SCs develop during austral summer (December-February), it is in autumn (March-May) that the most tropical environment is found (stronger surface fluxes and weaker vertical wind shear), leading to the most intense episodes.