Height-dependent transition from 3-D to 2-D turbulence in the hurricane boundary layer

David Byrne, Jun A. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Here we show, from in situ aircraft measurements in the hurricane boundary layer, a height-dependent transition of the flow from 3-D to 2-D turbulence. This marks a fundamental change in the energy dynamics of the hurricane boundary layer due to the fact that in 3-D, energy flows downscale from larger to smaller scales, whereas in 2-D, it flows upscale, from smaller to larger scales. These results represent the first measurement of the 2-D upscale energy flux in the atmosphere and also the first to characterize the transition from 3-D to 2-D. It is shown that the large-scale parent vortex may gain energy directly from small scales in tropical cyclones. Key Points Measurements of wind velocity in the hurricane boundary layer are analysed A height dependent transition from 3D to 2D turbulence is observed This transition changes the energy flow from downscale to upscale

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1439-1442
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 16 2013


  • Boundary Layer Processes
  • Subgrid scale paramaterization
  • three-dimensional
  • Tropical Cyclones
  • Turbulence
  • two-dimensional

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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