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  1. Key Points Lateral entrainment of air from the moat region into eyewall and rainbands of a tropical cyclone (TC) satisfies the instability criterion Positive buoyancy flux induced by the entrainment is an important source of turbulent kinetic energy for the eyewall and rainband clouds Lateral entrainment instability should be included in turbulent mixing parameterizations in TC forecast models 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 28, 2024
  2. Abstract The momentum roughness length ( z 0 ) significantly impacts wind predictions in weather and climate models. Nevertheless, the impacts of z 0 parameterizations in different wind regimes and various model configurations on the hurricane size, intensity, and track simulations have not been thoroughly established. To bridge this knowledge gap, a comprehensive analysis of 310 simulations of 10 real hurricanes using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model is conducted in comparison with observations. Our results show that the default z 0 parameterizations in WRF perform well for weak (category 1–2) hurricanes; however, they underestimate the intensities of strong (category 3–5) hurricanes. This finding is independent of model resolution or boundary layer schemes. The default values of z 0 in WRF agree with the observational estimates from dropsonde data in weak hurricanes while they are much larger than observations in strong hurricanes regime. Decreasing z 0 close to the values of observational estimates and theoretical hurricane intensity models in high wind regimes (≳45 m s −1 ) led to significant improvements in the intensity forecasts of strong hurricanes. A momentum budget analysis dynamically explained why the reduction of z 0 (decreased surface turbulent stresses) leads to stronger simulated storms. 
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  3. Abstract This study investigates the relationship between the azimuthally averaged kinematic structure of the tropical cyclone boundary layer (TCBL) and storm intensity, intensity change, and vortex structure above the BL. These relationships are explored using composites of airborne Doppler radar vertical profiles, which have a higher vertical resolution than typically used three-dimensional analyses and, therefore, better capture TCBL structure. Results show that the BL height, defined by the depth of the inflow layer, is greater in weak storms than in strong storms. The inflow layer outside the radius of maximum tangential wind speed (RMW) is deeper in intensifying storms than in nonintensifying storms at an early stage. The peak BL convergence inside the RMW is larger in intensifying storms than in nonintensifying storms. Updrafts originating from the TCBL are concentrated near the RMW for intensifying TCs, while updrafts span a large radial range outside the RMW for nonintensifying TCs. In terms of vortex structure above the BL, storms with a quickly decaying radial profile of tangential wind outside the RMW (“narrow” vortices) tend to have a deeper inflow layer outside the RMW, stronger inflow near the RMW, deeper and more concentrated strong updrafts close to the RMW, and weaker inflow in the outer core region than those with a slowly decaying tangential wind profile (“broad” vortices). The narrow TCs also tend to intensify faster than broad TCs, suggesting that a key relationship exists among vortex shape, the BL kinematic structure, and TC intensity change. This relationship is further explored by comparisons of absolute angular momentum budget terms for each vortex shape. 
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  4. Accurate specification of hurricane inner-core structure is critical to predicting the evolution of a hurricane. However, observations over hurricane inner cores are generally lacking. Previous studies have emphasized Tail Doppler radar (TDR) data assimilation to improve hurricane inner-core representation. Recently, Doppler wind lidar (DWL) has been used as an observing system to sample hurricane inner-core and environmental conditions. The NOAA P3 Hurricane Hunter aircraft has DWL installed and can obtain wind data over a hurricane’s inner core when the aircraft passes through the hurricane. In this study, we examine the impact of assimilating DWL winds and TDR radial winds on the prediction of Hurricane Earl (2016) with the NCEP operational Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) system. A series of data assimilation experiments are conducted with the Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI)-based ensemble-3DVAR hybrid system to identify the best way to assimilate TDR and DWL data into the HWRF forecast system. The results show a positive impact of DWL data on hurricane analysis and prediction. Compared with the assimilation of u and v components, assimilation of DWL wind speed provides better hurricane track and intensity forecasts. Proper choices of data thinning distances (e.g., 5 km horizontal thinning and 70 hPa vertical thinning for DWL) can help achieve better analysis in terms of hurricane vortex representation and forecasts. In the analysis and forecast cycles, the combined TDR and DWL assimilation (DWL wind speed and TDR radial wind, along with other conventional data, e.g., NCEP Automated Data Processing (ADP) data) offsets the downgrade analysis from the absence of DWL observations in an analysis cycle and outperforms assimilation of a single type of data (either TDR or DWL) and leads to improved forecasts of hurricane track, intensity, and structure. Overall, assimilation of DWL observations has been beneficial for analysis and forecasts in most cases. The outcomes from this study demonstrate the great potential of including DWL wind profiles in the operational HWRF system for hurricane forecast improvement. 
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  5. 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.

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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 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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  8. 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. 
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  9. null (Ed.)
    This paper reviews the evolution of planetary boundary layer (PBL) parameterization schemes that have been used in the operational version of the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) model since 2011. Idealized simulations are then used to evaluate the effects of different PBL schemes on hurricane structure and intensity. The original Global Forecast System (GFS) PBL scheme in the 2011 version of HWRF produces the weakest storm, while a modified GFS scheme using a wind-speed dependent parameterization of vertical eddy diffusivity (Km) produces the strongest storm. The subsequent version of the hybrid eddy diffusivity and mass flux scheme (EDMF) used in HWRF also produces a strong storm, similar to the version using the wind-speed dependent Km. Both the intensity change rate and maximum intensity of the simulated storms vary with different PBL schemes, mainly due to differences in the parameterization of Km. The smaller the Km in the PBL scheme, the faster a storm tends to intensify. Differences in hurricane PBL height, convergence, inflow angle, warm-core structure, distribution of deep convection, and agradient force in these simulations are also examined. Compared to dropsonde and Doppler radar composites, improvements in the kinematic structure are found in simulations using the wind-speed dependent Km and modified EDMF schemes relative to those with earlier versions of the PBL schemes in HWRF. However, the upper boundary layer in all simulations is much cooler and drier than that in dropsonde observations. This model deficiency needs to be considered and corrected in future model physics upgrades. 
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