skip to main content

Title: Why does rapid contraction of the radius of maximum wind precede rapid intensification in tropical cyclones?
Abstract The radius of maximum wind (RMW) has been found to contract rapidly well preceding rapid intensification in tropical cyclones (TCs) in recent literature but the understanding of the involved dynamics is incomplete. In this study, this phenomenon is revisited based on ensemble axisymmetric numerical simulations. Consistent with previous studies, because the absolute angular momentum (AAM) is not conserved following the RMW, the phenomenon can not be understood based on the AAM-based dynamics. Both budgets of tangential wind and the rate of change in the RMW are shown to provide dynamical insights into the simulated relationship between the rapid intensification and rapid RMW contraction. During the rapid RMW contraction stage, due to the weak TC intensity and large RMW, the moderate negative radial gradient of radial vorticity flux and small curvature of the radial distribution of tangential wind near the RMW favor rapid RMW contraction but weak diabatic heating far inside the RMW leads to weak low-level inflow and small radial absolute vorticity flux near the RMW and thus a relatively small intensification rate. As RMW contraction continues and TC intensity increases, diabatic heating inside the RMW and radial inflow near the RMW increase, leading to a substantial increase in more » radial absolute vorticity flux near the RMW and thus the rapid TC intensification. However, the RMW contraction rate decreases rapidly due to the rapid increase in the curvature of the radial distribution of tangential wind near the RMW as the TC intensifies rapidly and RMW decreases. « less
Authors:
; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1834300
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10318118
Journal Name:
Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
ISSN:
0022-4928
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    The axisymmetric structure of the inner-core hurricane boundary layer (BL) during intensification [IN; intensity tendency ≥20 kt (24 h)−1, where 1 kt ≈ 0.5144 m s−1], weakening [WE; intensity tendency <−10 kt (24 h)−1], and steady-state [SS; the remainder] periods are analyzed using composites of GPS dropwindsondes from reconnaissance missions between 1998 and 2015. A total of 3091 dropsondes were composited for analysis below 2.5-km elevation—1086 during IN, 1042 during WE, and 963 during SS. In nonintensifying hurricanes, the low-level tangential wind is greater outside the radius of maximum wind (RMW) than for intensifying hurricanes, implying higher inertial stability (I2) at those radii for nonintensifying hurricanes. Differences in tangential wind structure (and I2) between the groups also imply differences in secondary circulation. The IN radial inflow layer is of nearly equal or greater thickness than nonintensifying groups, and all groups show an inflow maximum just outside the RMW. Nonintensifying hurricanes have stronger inflow outside the eyewall region, likely associated with frictionally forced ascent out of the BL and enhanced subsidence into the BL at radii outside the RMW. Equivalent potential temperatures (θe) and conditional stability are highest inside the RMW of nonintensifying storms, which is potentially related to TCmore »intensity. At greater radii, inflow layer θe is lowest in WE hurricanes, suggesting greater subsidence or more convective downdrafts at those radii compared to IN and SS hurricanes. Comparisons of prior observational and theoretical studies are highlighted, especially those relating BL structure to large-scale vortex structure, convection, and intensity.

    « less
  2. This study analyses Global Positioning System dropsondes to document the axisymmetric tropical cyclone (TC) boundary-layer structure, based on storm intensity. A total of 2608 dropsondes from 42 named TCs in the Atlantic basin from 1998 to 2017 are used in the composite analyses. The results show that the axisymmetric inflow layer depth, the height of maximum tangential wind speed, and the thermodynamic mixed layer depth are all shallower in more intense TCs. The results also show that more intense TCs tend to have a deep layer of the near-saturated air inside the radius of maximum wind speed (RMW). The magnitude of the radial gradient of equivalent potential temperature (θe) near the RMW correlates positively with storm intensity. Above the inflow layer, composite structures of TCs with different intensities all possess a ring of anomalously cool temperatures surrounding the warm-core, with the magnitude of the warm-core anomaly proportional to TC intensity. The boundary layer composites presented here provide a climatology of how axisymmetric TC boundary layer structure changes with intensity.
  3. Upper-level static stability ( N2) variations can influence the evolution of the transverse circulation and potential vorticity in intensifying tropical cyclones (TCs). This paper examines these variations during the rapid intensification (RI) of a simulated TC. Over the eye, N2near the tropopause decreases and the cold-point tropopause rises by up to 4 km at the storm center. Outside of the eye, N2increases considerably just above the cold-point tropopause and the tropopause remains near its initial level. A budget analysis reveals that the advection terms, which include differential advection of potential temperature θ and direct advection of N2, are important throughout the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. These terms are particularly pronounced within the eye, where they destabilize the layer near and above the cold-point tropopause. Outside of the eye, a radial–vertical circulation develops during RI, with strong outflow below the tropopause and weak inflow above. Differential advection of θ near the outflow jet provides forcing for stabilization below the outflow maximum and destabilization above. Turbulence induced by vertical wind shear on the flanks of the outflow maximum also modifies the vertical stability profile. Meanwhile, radiative cooling tendencies at the top of the cirrus canopy generally act to destabilize the uppermore »troposphere and stabilize the lower stratosphere. The results suggest that turbulence and radiation, alongside differential advection, play fundamental roles in the upper-level N2evolution of TCs. These N2tendencies could have implications for both the TC diurnal cycle and the tropopause-layer potential vorticity evolution in TCs.

    « less
  4. The dynamics of eyewall contraction of tropical cyclones (TCs) has been revisited in this study based on both three-dimensional and axisymmetric simulations and dynamical diagnostics. Because eyewall contraction is closely related to the contraction of the radius of maximum wind (RMW), its dynamics is thus often studied by examining the RMW tendency in previous studies. Recently, Kieu and Stern et al. proposed two different frameworks to diagnose the RMW tendency but had different conclusions. In this study, the two frameworks are evaluated first based on theoretical analysis and idealized numerical simulations. It is shown that the framework of Kieu is a special case of the earlier framework of Willoughby et al. if the directional derivative is applied. An extension of Stern et al.’s approach not only can reproduce but also can predict the RMW tendency. A budget of the azimuthal-mean tangential wind tendency indicates that the contributions by radial and vertical advections to the RMW tendency vary with height. Namely, radial advection dominates the RMW contraction in the lower boundary layer, and vertical advection favors the RMW contraction in the upper boundary layer and lower troposphere. In addition to the curvature, the increase of the radial gradient of horizontal mixingmore »(including the resolved eddy mixing in three dimensions) near the eyewall prohibits eyewall contraction in the lower boundary layer. Besides, the vertical mixing including surface friction also plays an important role in the cessation of eyewall contraction in the lower boundary layer.« less
  5. Abstract

    We present a numerical investigation of the processes that influenced the contrasting rapid intensity changes in Tropical Cyclones (TC) Phailin and Lehar (2013) over the Bay of Bengal. Our emphasis is on the significant differences in the environments experienced by the TCs within a few weeks and the consequent differences in their organization of vortex-scale convection that resulted in their different rapid intensity changes. The storm-relative proximity, intensity, and depth of the subtropical ridge resulted in the establishment of a low-sheared environment for Phailin and a high-sheared environment for Lehar. Our primary finding here is that in Lehar’s sheared vortex, the juxtaposition in the azimuthal phasing of the asymmetrically distributed downward eddy flux of moist-entropy through the top of the boundary layer, and the radial eddy flux of moist-entropy within the boundary layer in the upshear left-quadrant of Lehar (40–80 km radius) establishes a pathway for the low moist-entropy air to intrude into the vortex from the environment. Conversely, when the azimuthal variations in boundary layer moist-entropy, inflow, and convection are weak in Phailin’s low-sheared environment, the inflow magnitude and radial location of boundary layer convergence relative to the radius of maximum wind dictated the rapid intensification.