An observational study of the symmetric boundary layer structure and tropical cyclone intensity

Yifang Ren, Jun A. Zhang, Jonathan L. Vigh, Ping Zhu, Hailong Liu, Xiang Wang, Joshua B. Wadler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This study analyses Global Positioning System dropsondes to document the axisymmetric tropical cyclone (TC) boundary-layer structure, based on storm intensity. A total of 2608 dropsondes from 42 named TCs in the Atlantic basin from 1998 to 2017 are used in the composite analyses. The results show that the axisymmetric inflow layer depth, the height of maximum tangential wind speed, and the thermodynamic mixed layer depth are all shallower in more intense TCs. The results also show that more intense TCs tend to have a deep layer of the near-saturated air inside the radius of maximum wind speed (RMW). The magnitude of the radial gradient of equivalent potential temperature (θe) near the RMW correlates positively with storm intensity. Above the inflow layer, composite structures of TCs with different intensities all possess a ring of anomalously cool temperatures surrounding the warm-core, with the magnitude of the warm-core anomaly proportional to TC intensity. The boundary layer composites presented here provide a climatology of how axisymmetric TC boundary layer structure changes with intensity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number158
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • Atmospheric boundary layer
  • Axisymmetric structure
  • Climatology
  • Storm intensity
  • Tropical cyclone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


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