University of Sussex

File(s) not publicly available

Water vapour transport associated with tropical–temperate trough systems over southern Africa and the southwest Indian Ocean

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 17:16 authored by Martin ToddMartin Todd, Richard Washington, Paul I Palmer
Tropical–temperate trough (TTT) systems are the dominant rain-producing synoptic type over southern Africa. They represent an important mechanism of poleward transport of energy and momentum. This paper provides an analysis of water vapour transport in TTT systems. An objective sampling of TTT systems is conducted from analysis of daily satellite rainfall products. During the sampled TTT events, rain bands extend from tropical southern Africa near 10 °S to the midlatitudes of the southwest Indian Ocean. The divergent and non-divergent (streamfunction) components of vertically integrated water vapour flux associated with major TTT events are calculated, from National Centers for Environmental Prediction reanalysis data. During TTT events the streamfunction circulation dominates water vapour transport, although adjustments to the divergent component are relatively more important. The results indicate that TTT events facilitate a substantial water vapour flux from the tropics into the midlatitudes. Water vapour transport to the midlatitudes along the TTT axis is facilitated largely by changes to the streamfunction, associated with a strengthening and eastward displacement of the Indian Ocean high, and the advent of midlatitude transients. It is also shown that TTT systems are major regions of moisture convergence. The high vapour concentrations along the full extent of the TTT rain bands are maintained by the divergent circulation. The structure of these divergent vapour flux anomalies is suggestive of adjustments to the Walker circulation, involving strong anomalous divergence over the maritime continent/west Pacific and a weaker enhancement of the major divergence centre over the tropical Atlantic.


Publication status

  • Published


International Journal of Climatology









Page range


Department affiliated with

  • Geography Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Publications)


    No categories selected