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  1. 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.

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  2. Abstract

    Proposals to use technology to cool sea surface temperatures have received attention for the potential application of weakening a tropical cyclone ahead of landfall. Here, application of an ocean-mixing aware maximum potential intensity theory finds that artificial ocean cooling could drastically weaken tropical cyclones over high sea surface temperature and deep ocean mixed layer environments, especially for fast storm motion speeds. In contrast, realistic mesoscale numerical simulations reveal that massive regions - the largest evaluated here contains a volume of 2.1 × 104 km3and a surface area of 2.6 × 105km2- of artificially cooled ocean waters could weaken a tropical cyclone two days before landfall by 15% but only under the most ideal atmospheric and oceanic conditions. Thus, the fundamental theory provides an unreachable upper-bound that cannot be attained even by expending vast resources.

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  3. Abstract

    Recent observational and numerical studies have investigated the dynamics of fine‐scale gravity waves radiating horizontally outward from tropical cyclones. The waves are wrapped into spirals by the tangential wind of the cyclone and are described as spiral gravity waves. This study addresses how well numerical simulations of these waves compare to observations as the horizontal grid spacing is decreased from 2.0 to 1.0 to 0.5 km, and the number of vertical levels changes from 25 to 50 to 100. Spectral filtering is applied to separate the fine‐scale waves in vertical velocity (w) and the larger‐scale waves in pressure (p) from moist updrafts and downdrafts in the eyewall and rainbands. As the grid spacing decreases, the radial wavelengths of thewwaves decrease from 20 to 7 km, approaching observed values. For grid spacing 1.0 km, thepwaves become well‐resolved with wavelength 70 km. The outward phase speeds range from 15 to 30 ms−1for thewwaves and 50 to 70 ms−1forpwaves. Analysis of the upper‐level outflow region finds that the spiralwwaves propagate 5–10 ms−1faster due to radial advection, but also finds what appear to be different classes of larger‐amplitude, slow‐moving spiral waves. Similar waves can be seen in satellite images, which appear to be caused by dynamical instability of the strongly vertically sheared radial and tangential winds in the TC outflow.

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  4. null (Ed.)
    Abstract The thermodynamic effect of downdrafts on the boundary layer and nearby updrafts are explored in idealized simulations of category-3 and category-5 tropical cyclones (Ideal3 and Ideal5). In Ideal5, downdrafts underneath the eyewall pose no negative thermodynamic influence because of eye-eyewall mixing below 2-km altitude. Additionally, a layer of higher θ e between 1 and 2 km altitude associated with low-level outflow that extends 40 km outward from the eyewall region creates a “thermodynamic shield” that prevents negative effects from downdrafts. In Ideal3, parcel trajectories from downdrafts directly underneath the eyewall reveal that low-θ e air initially moves radially inward allowing for some recovery in the eye, but still enters eyewall updrafts with a mean θ e deficit of 5.2 K. Parcels originating in low-level downdrafts often stay below 400 m for over an hour and increase their θ e by 10-14 K, showing that air-sea enthalpy fluxes cause sufficient energetic recovery. The most thermodynamically unfavorable downdrafts occur ~5 km radially outward from an updraft and transport low-θ e mid-tropospheric air towards the inflow layer. Here, the low-θ e air entrains into the updraft in less than five minutes with a mean θ e deficit of 8.2 K. In general, θ e recovery is a function of minimum parcel altitude such that downdrafts with the most negative influence are those entrained into the top of the inflow layer. With both simulated TCs exposed to environmental vertical wind shear, this study underscores that storm structure and individual downdraft characteristics must be considered when discussing paradigms for TC intensity evolution. 
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  5. Abstract

    The evolution of the tropical cyclone boundary layer (TCBL) wind field before landfall is examined in this study. As noted in previous studies, a typical TCBL wind structure over the ocean features a supergradient boundary layer jet to the left of motion and Earth-relative maximum winds to the right. However, the detailed response of the wind field to frictional convergence at the coastline is less well known. Here, idealized numerical simulations reveal an increase in the offshore radial and vertical velocities beginning once the TC is roughly 200 km offshore. This increase in the radial velocity is attributed to the sudden decrease in frictional stress once the highly agradient flow crosses the offshore coastline. Enhanced advection of angular momentum by the secondary circulation forces a strengthening of the supergradient jet near the top of the TCBL. Sensitivity experiments reveal that the coastal roughness discontinuity dominates the friction asymmetry due to motion. Additionally, increasing the inland roughness through increasing the aerodynamic roughness length enhances the observed asymmetries. Last, a brief analysis of in situ surface wind data collected during the landfall of three Gulf of Mexico hurricanes is provided and compared to the idealized simulations. Despite the limited in situ data, the observations generally support the simulations. The results here imply that assumptions about the TCBL wind field based on observations from over horizontally homogeneous surface types—which have been well documented by previous studies—are inappropriate for use near strong frictional heterogeneity.

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  6. Abstract

    The distribution of turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) and its budget terms is estimated in simulated tropical cyclones (TCs) of various intensities. Each simulated TC is subject to storm motion, wind shear, and oceanic coupling. Different storm intensities are achieved through different ocean profiles in the model initialization. For each oceanic profile, the atmospheric simulations are performed with and without TKE advection. In all simulations, the TKE is maximized at low levels (i.e., below 1 km) and ∼0.5 km radially inward of the azimuthal‐mean radius of maximum wind speed at 1‐km height. As in a previous study, the axisymmetric TKE decreases with height in the eyewall, but more abruptly in simulations without TKE advection. The largest TKE budget terms are shear generation and dissipation, though variability in vertical turbulent transport and buoyancy production affect the change in the azimuthal‐mean TKE distribution. The general relationships between the TKE budget terms are consistent across different radii, regardless of storm intensity. In terms of the asymmetric distribution in the eyewall, TKE is maximized in the front‐left quadrant where the sea surface temperature (SST) is highest and is minimized in the rear‐right quadrant where the SST is the lowest. In the category‐5 simulation, the height of the TKE maximum varies significantly in the eyewall between quadrants and is between ∼400 m in the rear‐right quadrant and ∼1,000 m in the front‐left quadrant. When TKE advection is included in the simulations, the maximum eyewall TKE values are downwind compared to the simulations without TKE advection.

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  7. null (Ed.)
    Abstract The sensitivity of the inland wind decay to realistic inland surface roughness lengths and soil moisture contents is evaluated for strong, idealized tropical cyclones (TCs) of category 4 strength making landfall. Results show that the relative sensitivities to roughness and moisture differ throughout the decay process, and are dependent on the strength and size of the vortex. First, within 12 h of landfall, intense winds at the surface decay rapidly in reaction to the sudden change in surface roughness and decreasing enthalpy fluxes. Wind speeds above the boundary layer decay at a slower rate. Differences in soil moisture contents minimally affect intensity during the first 12 h, as the enhancement of latent heat fluxes from high moisture contents is countered by enhanced surface cooling. After TCs decay to tropical storm intensities, weakening slows and the sensitivity of the intensity decay to soil moisture increases. Increased latent heating becomes significant enough to combat surface temperature cooling, resulting in enhanced convection outside of the expanding radius of maximum winds. This supports a slower decay. Additionally, the decay of the radial wind profile by quadrant is highly asymmetric, as the rear and left-of-motion quadrants decay the fastest. Increasing surface roughness accelerates the decay of the strongest winds, while increasing soil moisture slows the decay of the larger TC wind field. Results have implications for inland forecasting of TC winds and understanding the potential for damage. 
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  8. 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. 
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  9. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Although global and regional dynamical models are used to predict the tracks and intensities of hurricanes over the ocean, these models are not currently used to predict the wind field and other impacts over land. This two-part study performs detailed evaluations of the near-surface, overland wind fields produced in simulations of Hurricane Wilma (2005) as it traveled across South Florida. This first part describes the production of two high-resolution simulations using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model, using different boundary layer parameterizations available in WRF: the Mellor–Yamada–Janjić (MYJ) scheme and the Yonsei University (YSU) scheme. Initial conditions from the Global Forecasting System are manipulated with a vortex-bogusing technique to modify the initial intensity, size, and location of the cyclone. It is found possible through trial and error to successfully produce simulations using both the YSU and MYJ schemes that closely reproduce the track, intensity, and size of Wilma at landfall. For both schemes the storm size and structure also show good agreement with the wind fields diagnosed by H*WIND and the Tropical Cyclone Surface Wind Analysis. Both over water and over land, the YSU scheme has stronger winds over larger areas than does the MYJ, but the surface winds are more reduced in areas of greater surface roughness, particularly in urban areas. Both schemes produced very similar inflow angles over land and water. The overland wind fields are examined in more detail in the second part of this study. 
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  10. null (Ed.)
    Abstract The Loop Current (LC) system has long been assumed to be close to geostrophic balance despite its strong flow and the development of large meanders and strong frontal eddies during unstable phases. The region between the LC meanders and its frontal eddies was shown to have high Rossby numbers indicating nonlinearity; however, the effect of the nonlinear term on the flow has not been studied so far. In this study, the ageostrophy of the LC meanders is assessed using a high-resolution numerical model and geostrophic velocities from altimetry. A formula to compute the radius of curvature of the flow from the velocity field is also presented. The results indicate that during strong meandering, especially before and during LC shedding and in the presence of frontal eddies, the centrifugal force becomes as important as the Coriolis force and the pressure gradient force: LC meanders are in gradient-wind balance. The centrifugal force modulates the balance and modifies the flow speed, resulting in a subgeostrophic flow in the LC meander trough around the LC frontal eddies and supergeostrophic flow in the LC meander crest. The same pattern is found when correcting the geostrophic velocities from altimetry to account for the centrifugal force. The ageostrophic percentage in the cyclonic and anticyclonic meanders is 47% ± 1% and 78% ± 8% in the model and 31% ± 3% and 78% ± 29% in the altimetry dataset, respectively. Thus, the ageostrophic velocity is an important component of the LC flow and cannot be neglected when studying the LC system. 
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