skip to main content


Title: Large-Eddy Simulations of the Tropical Cyclone Boundary Layer at Landfall in an Idealized Urban Environment
Abstract

Populated urban areas along many coastal regions are vulnerable to landfalling tropical cyclones (TCs). To the detriment of surface parameterizations in mesoscale models, the complexities of turbulence at high TC wind speeds in urban canopies are presently poorly understood. Thus, this study explores the impacts of urban morphology on TC-strength winds and boundary layer turbulence in landfalling TCs. To better quantify how urban structures interact with TC winds, large-eddy simulations (LESs) are conducted with the Cloud Model 1 (CM1). This implementation of CM1 includes immersed boundary conditions (IBCs) to represent buildings and eddy recycling to maintain realistic turbulent flow perturbations. Within the IBCs, an idealized coastal city with varying scales is introduced. TC winds impinge perpendicularly to the urbanized coastline. Numerical experiments show that buildings generate distinct, intricate flow patterns that vary significantly as the city structure is varied. Urban IBCs produce much stronger turbulent kinetic energy than is produced by conventional surface parameterizations. Strong effective eddy viscosity due to resolved eddy mixing is displayed in the wake of buildings within the urban canopy, while deep and enhanced effective eddy viscosity is present downstream. Such effects are not seen in a comparison LES using a simple surface parameterization with high roughness values. Wind tunneling effects in streamwise canyons enhance pedestrian-level winds well beyond what is possible without buildings. In the arena of regional mesoscale modeling, this type of LES framework with IBCs can be used to improve parameters in surface and boundary layer schemes to more accurately represent the drag coefficient and the eddy viscosity in landfalling TC boundary layers.

Significance Statement

This is among the first large-eddy simulation model studies to examine the impacts of tropical cyclone–like winds around explicitly resolved buildings. This work is a step forward in bridging the gap between engineering studies that use computational fluid dynamics models or laboratory experiments for flow through cities and mesoscale model simulations of landfalling tropical cyclones that use surface parameterizations specialized for urban land use.

 
more » « less
NSF-PAR ID:
10472444
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
American Meteorological Society
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Volume:
62
Issue:
11
ISSN:
1558-8424
Format(s):
Medium: X Size: p. 1457-1478
Size(s):
p. 1457-1478
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    This study analyzes observations collected by multilevel towers to estimate turbulence parameters in the atmospheric surface layer of two landfalling tropical cyclones (TCs). The momentum flux, turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) and dissipation rate increase with the wind speed independent of surface types. However, the momentum flux and TKE are much larger over land than over the coastal ocean at a given wind speed range. The vertical eddy diffusivity is directly estimated using the momentum flux and strain rate, which more quickly increases with the wind speed over a rougher surface. Comparisons of the eddy diffusivity estimated using the direct flux method and that using the friction velocity and height show good agreement. On the other hand, the traditional TKE method overestimates the eddy diffusivity compared to the direct flux method. The scaling coefficients in the TKE method are derived for the two different surface types to better match with the vertical eddy diffusivity based on the direct flux method. Some guidance to improve vertical diffusion parameterizations for TC landfall forecasts in weather simulations are also provided.

     
    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    Abstract The simulated winds within the urban canopy of landfalling tropical cyclones are sensitive to the representation of the planetary-boundary and urban-canopy layers in numerical weather prediction models. In order to assess the sub-grid-scale parameterizations of these layers, mesoscale model simulations were executed and evaluated against near-surface observations as the outer wind field of Hurricane Irma (2017) interacted with the built-up region from downtown Miami northward to West Palm Beach. Four model simulations were examined, comprised of two different planetary boundary layer (PBL) parameterizations (a local closure scheme with turbulent kinetic energy prediction and a nonlocal closure scheme) and two different urban canopy models (UCMs) [a zeroth order bulk scheme and a multilayer Building Effect Parameterization (BEP) that mimics the three-dimensionality of buildings]. Overall, the simulated urban canopy winds were weakly sensitive to the PBL scheme and strongly sensitive to the UCM. The bulk simulations compared most favorably to an analyzed wind swath in the urban environment, while the BEP simulations had larger negative biases in the same region. There is uncertainty in magnitude of the urban environment biases due to the lack of many urban sheltered measurements in the wind swath analysis. Biases in the rural environment were similar among the bulk and BEP simulations. An improved comparison with the analyzed wind swath in the urban region was obtained by reducing the drag coefficient in BEP in one of the PBL schemes. The usefulness of BEP was demonstrated in its ability to predict realistic heterogeneous near-surface velocity patterns in urban regions. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract Unsteadiness and horizontal heterogeneities frequently characterize atmospheric motions, especially within convective storms, which are frequently studied using large-eddy simulations (LES). The models of near-surface turbulence employed by atmospheric LES, however, predominantly assume statistically steady and horizontally homogeneous conditions (known as the equilibrium approach). The primary objective of this work is to investigate the potential consequences of such unrealistic assumptions in simulations of tornadoes. Cloud Model 1 (CM1) LES runs are performed using three approaches to model near-surface turbulence: the “semi-slip” boundary condition (which is the most commonly used equilibrium approach), a recently proposed nonequilibrium approach that accounts for some of the effects of turbulence memory, and a nonequilibrium approach based on thin boundary layer equations (TBLE) originally proposed by the engineering community for smooth-wall boundary layer applications. To be adopted for atmospheric applications, the TBLE approach is modified to account for the surface roughness. The implementation of TBLE into CM1 is evaluated using LES results of an idealized, neutral atmospheric boundary layer. LES runs are then performed for an idealized tornado characterized by rapid evolution, strongly curved air parcel trajectories, and substantial horizontal heterogeneities. The semi-slip boundary condition, by design, always yields a surface shear stress opposite the horizontal wind at the lowest LES grid level. The nonequilibrium approaches of modeling near-surface turbulence allow for a range of surface-shear-stress directions and enhance the resolved turbulence and wind gusts. The TBLE approach even occasionally permits kinetic energy backscatter from unresolved to resolved scales. Significance Statement The traditional approach of modeling the near-surface turbulence is not suitable for a tornado characterized by rapid evolution, strongly curved air parcel trajectories, and substantial horizontal heterogeneities. To understand the influence of statistically unsteady and horizontally heterogeneous near-surface conditions on tornadoes, this work adopts a fairly sophisticated approach from the engineering community and implements it into a widely used atmospheric model with necessary modifications. Compared to the traditional approach, the newly implemented approach produces more turbulent near-surface winds, more flexible surface-drag directions, and stronger wind gusts. These findings suggest a simulated tornado is very sensitive to the modeling approach of near-surface turbulence. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    The movement of tropical cyclones (TCs), particularly around the time of landfall, can substantially affect the resulting damage. Recently, trends in TC translation speed and the likelihood of stalled TCs such as Harvey have received significant attention, but findings have remained inconclusive. Here, we examine how the June-September steering wind and translation speed of landfalling Texas TCs change in the future under anthropogenic climate change. Using several large-ensemble/multi-model datasets, we find pronounced regional variations in the meridional steering wind response over North America, but―consistently across models―stronger June-September-averaged northward steering winds over Texas. A cluster analysis of daily wind patterns shows more frequent circulation regimes that steer landfalling TCs northward in the future. Downscaling experiments show a 10-percentage-point shift from the slow-moving to the fast-moving end of the translation-speed distribution in the future. Together, these analyses indicate increases in the likelihood of faster-moving landfalling Texas TCs in the late 21stcentury.

     
    more » « less
  5. The question of at what resolution the large eddy simulations (LESs) of a tropical cyclone (TC) high wind area may converge largely remains unanswered. To address this issue, LESs with five resolutions of 300 m, 100 m, 60 m, 33 m, and 20 m are performed in this study to simulate a high wind area near the radius of maximum wind of Typhoon Chanthu (2021) using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. The results show that, for a limited area LES, model grid resolution may alter the local turbulence structure to generate significantly different extreme values of temperature, moisture, and winds, but it only has a marginal impact on the median values of these variables throughout the vertical column. All simulations are able to capture the turbulent roll vortices in the TC boundary layer, but the structure and intensity of the rolls vary substantially in different resolution simulations. Local hectometer-scale eddies with vertical velocities exceeding 10 m s−1 are only observed in the 20 m resolution simulation but not in the coarser resolution simulations. The ratio of the resolved turbulent momentum fluxes and turbulent kinetic energies (TKEs) to the total momentum fluxes and TKEs appears to show some convergence of LESs when the grid resolution reaches 100 m or finer, suggesting that it is an acceptable grid resolution for LES applications in TC simulations. 
    more » « less