Aircraft Observations of Turbulence Characteristics in the Tropical Cyclone Boundary Layer

Zhongkuo Zhao, P. W. Chan, Naigeng Wu, Jun A. Zhang, K. K. Hon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The Hong Kong Observatory conducted six flights in the atmospheric boundary layer of five tropical cyclones: tropical storm Jebi (1309), typhoon Kalmaegi (1415), severe tropical storm Linfa (1510), typhoon Mujigae (1522), and severe typhoon Nida (1604). Three-dimensional wind data with a 20-Hz sampling rate are available for a height range of 500–670 m, with the mean wind speed from these low-level flights ranging from 10 to 62 m s−1. The turbulent momentum flux and turbulence kinetic energy (e) are measured using the eddy-correlation method, while horizontal scales of turbulent eddies, vertical eddy diffusivity (K), and the vertical turbulent mixing length scale are estimated indirectly. The dependence of the momentum flux, e, K, and the vertical mixing length on wind speed and height are compared with previous studies. Both the momentum flux and turbulent kinetic energy increase with the wind speed, although the rate of increase is smaller for higher wind speeds. It is also found that K increases with wind speed according to a power law up to 40 m s−1 before levelling off, while the vertical mixing length is nearly constant at 100 m. The results serve as a reference for evaluating and improving the turbulent parametrizion in tropical-cyclone models, while the observed large turbulent mixing near the top of the inflow layer of the eyewall region should not be neglected in numerical models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-511
Number of pages19
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Atmospheric turbulence
  • Boundary layer
  • Tropical cyclones
  • Vertical eddy diffusivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Aircraft Observations of Turbulence Characteristics in the Tropical Cyclone Boundary Layer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this