A direct aircraft observation of helical rolls in the tropical cyclone boundary layer

Jie Tang, Jun A. Zhang, Pakwai Chan, Kaikwong Hon, Xiaotu Lei, Yuan Wang

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Helical rolls are known to play a significant role in modulating both the mean and turbulence structure of the atmospheric boundary layer in tropical cyclones. However, in-situ measurements of these rolls have been limited due to safety restrictions. This study presents analyses of data collected by an aircraft operated by the Hong Kong Observatory in Typhoon Kalmaegi (1415) and Typhoon Nida (1604). Examination of the flight-level data at ~ 600 m altitude confirmed the existence of sub-kilometer-scale rolls. These rolls were mostly observed in the outer-core region. Turbulent momentum fluxes were computed using the eddy correlation method. The averaged momentum flux of flight legs with rolls was found to be ~ 2.5 times that of legs without rolls at a similar wind speed range. This result suggests that rolls could significantly modulate turbulent transfer in the tropical cyclone boundary layer. This roll effect on turbulent fluxes should be considered in the planetary boundary layer parameterization schemes of numerical models simulating and forecasting tropical cyclones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number18771
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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