skip to main content

Title: Statistical Analysis of Convective Updrafts in Tropical Cyclone Rainbands Observed by Airborne Doppler Radar

Ten years of airborne Doppler radar observations are used to study convective updrafts' kinematic and reflectivity structures in tropical cyclone (TC) rainbands. An automated algorithm is developed to identify the strongest rainband updrafts across 12 hurricane‐strength TCs. The selected updrafts are then collectively analyzed by their frequency, radius, azimuthal location (relative to the 200–850 hPa environmental wind shear), structural characteristics, and secondary circulation (radial/vertical) flow pattern. Rainband updrafts become deeper and stronger with increasing radius. A wavenumber‐1 asymmetry arises, showing that in the downshear (upshear) quadrants of the TC, updrafts are more (less) frequent and deeper (shallower). In the downshear quadrants, updrafts primarily have in‐up‐out or in‐up‐in secondary circulation patterns. The in‐up‐out circulation is the most frequent pattern and has the deepest updraft and reflectivity tower. Upshear, the updrafts generally have out‐up‐in or in‐up‐in patterns. The radial flow of the updraft circulations largely follows the vortex‐scale radial flow shear‐induced asymmetry, being increased low‐level inflow (outflow) and midlevel outflow (inflow) in the downshear (upshear) quadrants. It is hypothesized that the convective‐scale circulations are significantly influenced by the vortex‐scale radial flow at the updraft base and top altitudes. Other processes of the convective life cycle, such as bottom‐up decay of aging convective updrafts due to increased low‐level downdrafts, can influence the base altitude and, thus, the base radial flow of the updraft circulation. The findings presented in this study support previous literature regarding convective‐scale patterns of organized rainband convection in a mature, sheared TC.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract The dynamics of an asymmetric rainband complex leading into secondary eyewall formation (SEF) are examined in a simulation of Hurricane Matthew (2016), with particular focus on the tangential wind field evolution. Prior to SEF, the storm experiences an axisymmetric broadening of the tangential wind field as a stationary rainband complex in the downshear quadrants intensifies. The axisymmetric acceleration pattern that causes this broadening is an inward-descending structure of positive acceleration nearly 100 km wide in radial extent and maximizes in the low levels near 50 km radius. Vertical advection from convective updrafts in the downshear-right quadrant largely contributes to the low-level acceleration maximum, while the broader inward-descending pattern is due to horizontal advection within stratiform precipitation in the downshear-left quadrant. This broad slantwise pattern of positive acceleration is due to a mesoscale descending inflow (MDI) that is driven by midlevel cooling within the stratiform regions and draws absolute angular momentum inward. The MDI is further revealed by examining the irrotational component of the radial velocity, which shows the MDI extending downwind into the upshear-left quadrant. Here, the MDI connects with the boundary layer, where new convective updrafts are triggered along its inner edge; these new upshear-left updrafts are found to be important to the subsequent axisymmetrization of the low-level tangential wind maximum within the incipient secondary eyewall. 
    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    Abstract This study demonstrates how midlevel dry air and vertical wind shear (VWS) can modulate tropical cyclone (TC) development via radial ventilation. A suite of experiments was conducted with different combinations of initial midlevel moisture and VWS environments. Two radial ventilation structures are documented. The first structure is positioned in a similar region as rainband activity and downdraft ventilation (documented in Part I) between heights of 0 and 3 km. Parcels associated with this first structure transport low–equivalent potential temperature air inward and downward left of shear and upshear to suppress convection. The second structure is associated with the vertical tilt of the vortex and storm-relative flow between heights of 5 and 9 km. Parcels associated with this second structure transport low–relative humidity air inward upshear and right of shear to suppress convection. Altogether, the modulating effects of radial ventilation on TC development are the inward transport of low–equivalent potential temperature air, as well as low-level radial outflow upshear, which aid in reducing the areal extent of strong upward motions, thereby reducing the vertical mass flux in the inner core, and stunting TC development. 
    more » « less
  3. null (Ed.)
    Abstract The spatial and temporal variation in multiscale structures during the rapid intensification of Hurricane Michael (2018) are explored using a coupled atmospheric–oceanic dataset obtained from NOAA WP-3D and G-IV aircraft missions. During Michael’s early life cycle, the importance of ocean structure is studied to explore how the storm intensified despite experiencing moderate vertical shear. Michael maintained a fairly symmetric precipitation distribution and resisted lateral mixing of dry environmental air into the circulation upshear. The storm also interacted with an oceanic eddy field leading to cross-storm sea surface temperature (SST) gradients of ~2.5°C. This led to the highest enthalpy fluxes occurring left of shear, favoring the sustainment of updrafts into the upshear quadrants and a quick recovery from low-entropy downdraft air. Later in the life cycle, Michael interacted with more uniform and higher SSTs that were greater than 28°C, while vertical shear imposed asymmetries in Michael’s secondary circulation and distribution of entropy. Midlevel (~4–8 km) outflow downshear, a feature characteristic of hurricanes in shear, transported high-entropy air from the eyewall region outward. This outflow created a cap that reduced entrainment across the boundary layer top, protecting it from dry midtropospheric air out to large radii (i.e., >100 km), and allowing for rapid energy increases from air–sea enthalpy fluxes. Upshear, low-level (~0.5–2 km) outflow transported high-entropy air outward, which aided boundary layer recovery from low-entropy downdraft air. This study underscores the importance of simultaneously measuring atmospheric and oceanographic parameters to understand tropical cyclone structure during rapid intensification. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Using idealized simulations, we examine the storm-scale wind field response of a dry, hurricane-like vortex to prescribed stratiform heating profiles that mimic tropical cyclone (TC) spiral rainbands. These profiles were stationary with respect to the storm center to represent the diabatic forcing imposed by a quasi-stationary rainband complex. The first profile was typical of stratiform precipitation with heating above and cooling below the melting level. The vortex response included a mesoscale descending inflow and a midlevel tangential jet, consistent with previous studies. An additional response was an inward-spiraling low-level updraft radially inside the rainband heating. The second profile was a modified stratiform heating structure derived from observations and consisted of a diagonal dipole of heating and cooling. The same features were found with stronger magnitudes and larger vertical extents. The dynamics and implications of the forced low-level updraft were examined. This updraft was driven by buoyancy advection because of the stratiform-induced low-level cold pool. The stationary nature of the rainband diabatic forcing played an important role in modulating the required temperature and pressure anomalies to sustain this updraft. Simulations with moisture and full microphysics confirmed that this low-level updraft response was robust and capable of triggering sustained deep convection that could further impact the storm evolution, including having a potential role in secondary eyewall formation.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    As a follow-on to a previous study on secondary eyewall formation (SEF) in a simulation of Hurricane Matthew (2016), this study investigates the emergence and maintenance of an asymmetric rainband updraft region that leads to an SEF event. Under moderate deep-layer environmental wind shear, the storm develops a quasi-stationary rainband complex with intense, persistent updrafts in its left-of-shear, downwind end. Using a budget of equivalent potential temperatureθE, it is demonstrated that the maintenance of the left-of-shear updraft is aided by a mesoscale cold pool induced by rainband stratiform cooling which interacts with the storm’s moist envelope of high-θEair. An extended period of destabilization occurs through differential horizontal advection ofθEin the boundary layer, which continuously replenishes the moist instability that would otherwise be depleted by the updrafts. The initial lifting of the updraft is found to be the result of buoyancy advection resulting from the density contrast between the surface cold pool and the inner-core high-θEair. A potential vorticity (PV) budget analysis shows that these left-of-shear updrafts generate low- to midlevel PV through diabatic heating and boundary layer processes, which shapes the local PV enhancement and propagates cyclonically downwind. Meanwhile, in the mid- to upper levels, eddy PV flux convergence and PV generation continue to occur in the stratiform precipitation extending downwind into the upshear quadrants, which substantially increases the azimuthal mean PV at the radius of the developing secondary eyewall and marks the occurrence of the axisymmetrization process.

    more » « less