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Keywords:

  • tropical convection;
  • equatorial waves

[1] Convectively coupled equatorial waves (CCEWs) control a substantial fraction of tropical rainfall variability. Their horizontal structures and dispersion characteristics correspond to Matsuno's (1966) solutions of the shallow water equations on an equatorial beta plane, namely, Kelvin, equatorial Rossby, mixed Rossby-gravity, and inertio-gravity waves. Because of moist processes, the tilted vertical structures of CCEWs are complex, and their scales do not correspond to that expected from the linear theory of dry waves. The dynamical structures and cloud morphology of CCEWs display a large degree of self-similarity over a surprisingly wide range of scales, with shallow convection at their leading edge, followed by deep convection and then stratiform precipitation, mirroring that of individual mesoscale convective complexes. CCEWs have broad impacts within the tropics, and their simulation in general circulation models is still problematic, although progress has been made using simpler models. A complete understanding of CCEWs remains a challenge in tropical meteorology.