Effects of roll vortices on turbulent fluxes in the hurricane boundary layer

Jun A. Zhang, Kristina B. Katsaros, Peter G. Black, Susanne Lehner, Jeffrey R. French, William M. Drennan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Boundary-layer secondary circulations or 'roll vortices' can have a significant influence on the turbulent exchange of momentum, sensible heat and moisture throughout the hurricane boundary layer. In this study, analyses of data from a WP-3D aircraft of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are presented. As part of the Coupled Boundary Layer Air-Sea Transfer (CBLAST)-hurricane experiment sponsored through the Office of Naval Research and NOAA's annual hurricane research program, flights were conducted to investigate energy exchange across the air-sea interface. We present the first in-situ aircraft-based observations of rolls in the hurricane boundary layer and investigate their influence on energy and momentum exchange. The rolls detected in Hurricane Isidore (year 2002) have a characteristic wavelength of about 900 m, in good agreement with analyses of data from a synthetic aperture radar image captured by the Canadian Space Agency's RADARSAT satellite in the same storm. Our analyses of the airborne data suggest that roll vortices may be a significant factor modulating the air-sea momentum exchange.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-189
Number of pages17
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Air-sea interaction
  • Hurricane boundary layer
  • Roll vortices
  • Turbulent fluxes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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