skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 5:00 PM ET until 11:00 PM ET on Friday, June 21 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Search for: All records

Award ID contains: 1945113

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract

    The impacts of a tropical cyclone after landfall depend not only on storm intensity but also on the size and structure of the wind field. Hence, a simple predictive model for the wind field after landfall has significant potential value. This work tests existing theory for wind structure and size over the ocean against idealized axisymmetric landfall experiments in which the surface beneath a mature storm is instantaneously dried and roughened individually or simultaneously. Structure theory captures the response of the low-level wind field to different types of idealized landfalls, given the intensity and size response. Storm size, modeled to follow the ratio of simulated time-dependent storm intensity to the Coriolis parameter, can generally predict the transient response of the storm gale wind radiir34ktto inland surface forcings, particularly for at least moderate surface roughening regardless of the level of drying. Given knowledge of the intensity evolution, the above results combine to yield a theoretical model that can predict the full tangential wind field response to idealized landfalls.

    Significance Statement

    A theoretical model that can predict the time-dependent wind field structure of landfalling tropical cyclones (TCs) with a small number of physical, observable input parameters is essential for mitigating hazards and allocating public resources. This work provides a first-order prediction of storm size and structure after landfall, which can be combined with existing intensity predictions to form a simple model describing the inland wind field evolution. Results show its potential utility for modeling idealized inland TC wind fields.

     
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Recent work found evidence using aquaplanet experiments that tropical cyclone (TC) size on Earth is limited by the Rhines scale, which depends on the planetary vorticity gradientβ. This study aims to examine how the Rhines scale limits the size of an individual TC. The traditional Rhines scale is first reexpressed as a Rhines speed to characterize how the effect ofβvaries with radius in a vortex whose wind profile is known. The framework is used to define the vortex Rhines scale, which is the transition radius that divides the vortex into a vortex-dominant region at smaller radii, where the axisymmetric circulation is steady, and a wave-dominant region at larger radii, where the circulation stimulates planetary Rossby waves and dissipates. Experiments are performed using a simple barotropic model on aβplane initialized with a TC-like axisymmetric vortex defined using a recently developed theoretical TC wind profile model. The gradientβand initial vortex size are each systematically varied to investigate the detailed responses of the TC-like vortex toβ. Results show that the vortex shrinks toward an equilibrium size that closely follows the vortex Rhines scale. A larger initial vortex relative to its vortex Rhines scale will shrink faster. The shrinking time scale is well described by the vortex Rhines time scale, which is defined as the overturning time scale of the circulation at the vortex Rhines scale and is shown to be directly related to the Rossby wave group velocity. The relationship between our idealized results and the real Earth is discussed. Results may generalize to other eddy circulations, such as the extratropical cyclone.

    Significance Statement

    Tropical cyclones vary in size significantly on Earth, but how large a tropical cyclone could potentially be is still not understood. The variation of the Coriolis parameter with latitude is known to limit the size of turbulent circulations, but its effect on tropical cyclones has not been studied. This study derives a new parameter related to this concept called the “vortex Rhines scale” and shows in a simple model how and why storms will tend to shrink toward this size. These results help explain why tropical cyclone size tends to increase slowly with latitude on Earth and can help us understand what sets the size of tropical cyclones on Earth in general.

     
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Tropical cyclones (TCs) are one of the greatest threats to coastal communities along the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts due to their extreme wind, rainfall and storm surge. Analyzing historical TC climatology and modeling TC hazards can provide valuable insight to planners and decision makers. However, detailed TC size information is typically only available from 1988 onward, preventing accurate wind, rainfall, and storm surge modeling for TCs occurring earlier in the historical record. To overcome temporally limited TC size data, we develop a database of size estimates that are based on reanalysis data and a physics‐based model. Specifically, we utilize ERA5 reanalysis data to estimate the TC outer size, and a physics‐based TC wind model to estimate the radius of maximum wind. We evaluate our TC size estimates using two high‐resolution wind data sets as well as Best Track information for a wide variety of TCs. Using the estimated size information plus the TC track and intensity, we reconstruct historical storm tides from 1950 to 2020 using a basin‐scale hydrodynamic model and show that our reconstructions agree well with observed peak storm tide and storm surge. Finally, we demonstrate that incorporating an expanded set of historical modeled storm tides beginning in 1950 can enhance our understanding of US coastal hazard. Our newly developed database of TC sizes and associated storm tides/surges can aid in understanding North Atlantic TC climatology and modeling TC wind, storm surge, and rainfall hazard along the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

     
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    There is a lack of consensus on whether North Atlantic tropical cyclone (TC) outer size and structure (i.e., change in outer winds with increasing radius from the TC) will differ by the late twenty-first century. Hence, this work seeks to examine whether North Atlantic TC outer wind field size and structure will change by the late twenty-first century using multiple simulations under CMIP3 SRES A1B and CMIP5 RCP4.5 scenarios. Specifically, our analysis examines data from the GFDL High-Resolution Forecast-Oriented Low Ocean Resolution model (HiFLOR) and two versions of the GFDL hurricane model downscaling climate model output. Our results show that projected North Atlantic TC outer size and structure remain unchanged by the late twenty-first century within nearly all HiFLOR and GFDL hurricane model simulations. Moreover, no significant regional outer size differences exist in the North Atlantic within most HiFLOR and GFDL hurricane model simulations. No changes between the control and late-twenty-first-century simulations exist over the storm life cycle in nearly all simulations. For the simulation that shows significant decreases in TC outer size, the changes are attributed to reductions in storm lifetime and outer size growth rates. The absence of differences in outer size among most simulations is consistent with the process that controls the theoretical upper bound of storm size (i.e., Rhines scaling), which is thermodynamically invariant. However, the lack of complete consensus among simulations for many of these conclusions suggests nontrivial uncertainty in our results.

     
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    The radius of maximum wind (Rmax) in a tropical cyclone governs the footprint of hazards, including damaging wind, surge, and rainfall. However,Rmaxis an inconstant quantity that is difficult to observe directly and is poorly resolved in reanalyses and climate models. In contrast, outer wind radii are much less sensitive to such issues. Here we present a simple empirical model for predictingRmaxfrom the radius of 34-kt (1 kt ≈ 0.51 m s−1) wind (R17.5 ms). The model only requires as input quantities that are routinely estimated operationally: maximum wind speed,R17.5 ms, and latitude. The form of the empirical model takes advantage of our physical understanding of tropical cyclone radial structure and is trained on the Extended Best Track database from the North Atlantic 2004–20. Results are similar for the TC-OBS database. The physics reduces the relationship between the two radii to a dependence on two physical parameters, while the observational data enables an optimal estimate of the quantitative dependence on those parameters. The model performs substantially better than existing operational methods for estimatingRmax. The model reproduces the observed statistical increase inRmaxwith latitude and demonstrates that this increase is driven by the increase inR17.5 mswith latitude. Overall, the model offers a simple and fast first-order prediction ofRmaxthat can be used operationally and in risk models.

    Significance Statement

    If we can better predict the area of strong winds in a tropical cyclone, we can better prepare for its potential impacts. This work develops a simple model to predict the radius where the strongest winds in a tropical cyclone are located. The model is simple and fast and more accurate than existing models, and it also helps us to understand what causes this radius to vary in time, from storm to storm, and at different latitudes. It can be used in both operational forecasting and models of tropical cyclone hazard risk.

     
    more » « less
  6. Abstract

    The damage potential of a hurricane is widely considered to depend more strongly on an integrated measure of the hurricane wind field, such as integrated kinetic energy (IKE), than a point‐based wind measure, such as maximum sustained wind speed (Vmax). Recent work has demonstrated that minimum sea level pressure (MSLP) is also an integrated measure of the wind field. This study investigates how well historical continental US hurricane damage is predicted by MSLP compared to bothVmaxand IKE for continental United States hurricane landfalls for the period 1988–2021. We first show for the entire North Atlantic basin that MSLP is much better correlated with IKE (rrank = 0.50) thanVmax(rrank = 0.26). We then show that continental US hurricane normalized damage is better predicted by MSLP (rrank = 0.83) than eitherVmax(rrank = 0.67) or IKE (rrank = 0.65). For Georgia to Maine hurricane landfalls specifically, MSLP and IKE show similar levels of skill at predicting damage, whereasVmaxprovides effectively no predictive power. Conclusions for IKE extend to power dissipation as well, as the two quantities are highly correlated because wind radii closely follow a Modified Rankine vortex. The physical relationship of MSLP to IKE and power dissipation is discussed. In addition to better representing damage, MSLP is also much easier to measure via aircraft or surface observations than eitherVmaxor IKE, and it is already routinely estimated operationally. We conclude that MSLP is an ideal metric for characterizing hurricane damage risk.

     
    more » « less
  7. Abstract

    Here we present a machine learning–based wind reconstruction model. The model reconstructs hurricane surface winds with XGBoost, which is a decision-tree-based ensemble predictive algorithm. The model treats the symmetric and asymmetric wind fields separately. The symmetric wind field is approximated by a parametric wind profile model and two Bessel function series. The asymmetric field, accounting for asymmetries induced by the storm and its ambient environment, is represented using a small number of Laplacian eigenfunctions. The coefficients associated with Bessel functions and eigenfunctions are predicted by XGBoost based on storm and environmental features taken from NHC best-track and ERA-Interim data, respectively. We use HWIND for the observed wind fields. Three parametric wind profile models are tested in the symmetric wind model. The wind reconstruction model’s performance is insensitive to the choice of the profile model because the Bessel function series correct biases of the parametric profiles. The mean square error of the reconstructed surface winds is smaller than the climatological variance, indicating skillful reconstruction. Storm center location, eyewall size, and translation speed play important roles in controlling the magnitude of the leading asymmetries, while the phase of the asymmetries is mainly affected by storm translation direction. Vertical wind shear impacts the asymmetry phase to a lesser degree. Intended applications of this model include assessing hurricane risk using synthetic storm event sets generated by statistical–dynamical downscaling hurricane models.

     
    more » « less
  8. Abstract Seasonal predictions of tropical cyclone (TC) landfalls are challenging because seasonal landfall count not only depends on the number and spatial distribution of TC genesis, but also whether those TCs are steered toward land or not. Past studies have separately examined genesis and landfall as a function of large-scale ocean and atmospheric environmental conditions. Here, we introduce a practical statistical framework for estimating the seasonal count of TC landfalls as the product of a Poisson model for seasonal TC genesis and a logistic model for landfall probability. We compute spatial variations in TC landfall and genesis by decomposing TC activity in the western North Pacific (WNP) basin into 10° × 10° bins, then identify coherent regions where El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the western extent of the Pacific subtropical high (WPSH) have significant influences on seasonal landfall count. Our framework shows that ENSO and the WPSH are weakly related to basinwide landfalls but strongly related to regional genesis and landfall probability. ENSO modulates the zonal distribution of TC genesis, consistent with past work, whereas the WPSH modulates the meridional distribution of landfall probability due to variations in steering flow associated with the Pacific subtropical high. These spatial patterns result in four coherent subregions of the WNP basin that define seasonal landfall variations: landfall count increases in the southwestern WNP during a positive WPSH and La Niña, the south-central WNP during a positive WPSH and El Niño, the eastern WNP during a negative WPSH and El Niño, and the northern WNP during a negative WPSH and La Niña. 
    more » « less
  9. Abstract A model for tropical cyclone (TC) potential size (PS), which is capable of predicting the equilibrium outer radius of a TC solely from environmental parameters, is proposed. The model combines an updated Carnot cycle model with a physical model for the wind profile, which serve as energetic and dynamic constraints, respectively, on the minimum pressure. Physically, the Carnot cycle model defines how much the surface pressure can be dropped energetically, and the wind profile model defines how large the steady-state storm needs to be to yield that pressure drop for a given maximum wind speed. The model yields an intrinsic length scale V Carnot / f , with f the Coriolis parameter, V Carnot similar to the potential intensity V p , but without a dependence on the surface exchange coefficients of enthalpy C k and momentum C d . Analytic tests with the theory varying outflow temperature, sea surface temperature (SST), and f demonstrate that the model predictions are qualitatively consistent with the V p / f scaling for outer size found in past work. The model also predicts a weak dependence of outer size on C d , C k , and horizontal mixing length l h of turbulence, consistent with numerical simulation results. Idealized numerical simulation experiments with varied tropopause temperature, SST, f , C d , C k , and l h show that the model performs well in predicting the simulated outer radius. The V Carnot / f scaling also better captures the dependence of simulated TC size on SST than V p / f . Overall, the model appears to capture the essential physics that determine equilibrium TC size on the f plane. 
    more » « less
  10. Abstract Tropical cyclones cause significant inland hazards, including wind damage and freshwater flooding, which depend strongly on how storm intensity evolves after landfall. Existing theoretical predictions for storm intensification and equilibrium storm intensity have been tested over the open ocean but have not yet been applied to storms after landfall. Recent work examined the transient response of the tropical cyclone low-level wind field to instantaneous surface roughening or drying in idealized axisymmetric f -plane simulations. Here, experiments testing combined surface roughening and drying with varying magnitudes of each are used to test theoretical predictions for the intensity response. The transient response to combined surface forcings can be reproduced by the product of their individual responses, in line with traditional potential intensity theory. Existing intensification theory is generalized to weakening and found capable of reproducing the time-dependent inland intensity decay. The initial (0–10 min) rapid decay of near-surface wind caused by surface roughening is not captured by existing theory but can be reproduced by a simple frictional spindown model, where the decay rate is a function of surface drag coefficient. Finally, the theory is shown to compare well with the prevailing empirical decay model for real-world storms. Overall, results indicate the potential for existing theory to predict how tropical cyclone intensity evolves after landfall. 
    more » « less