Is the State of the Air-Sea Interface a Factor in Rapid Intensification and Rapid Decline of Tropical Cyclones?

Alexander V. Soloviev, Roger Lukas, Mark A. Donelan, Brian K. Haus, Isaac Ginis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Tropical storm intensity prediction remains a challenge in tropical meteorology. Some tropical storms undergo dramatic rapid intensification and rapid decline. Hurricane researchers have considered particular ambient environmental conditions including the ocean thermal and salinity structure and internal vortex dynamics (e.g., eyewall replacement cycle, hot towers) as factors creating favorable conditions for rapid intensification. At this point, however, it is not exactly known to what extent the state of the sea surface controls tropical cyclone dynamics. Theoretical considerations, laboratory experiments, and numerical simulations suggest that the air-sea interface under tropical cyclones is subject to the Kelvin-Helmholtz type instability. Ejection of large quantities of spray particles due to this instability can produce a two-phase environment, which can attenuate gravity-capillary waves and alter the air-sea coupling. The unified parameterization of waveform and two-phase drag based on the physics of the air-sea interface shows the increase of the aerodynamic drag coefficient Cd with wind speed up to hurricane force U10≈35 m s−1). Remarkably, there is a local Cd minimum—“an aerodynamic drag well”—at around U10≈60 m s−1. The negative slope of the Cd dependence on wind-speed between approximately 35 and 60 m s−1 favors rapid storm intensification. In contrast, the positive slope of Cd wind-speed dependence above 60 m s−1 is favorable for a rapid storm decline of the most powerful storms. In fact, the storms that intensify to Category 5 usually rapidly weaken afterward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10174-10183
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Volume122
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

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cyclones
hurricanes
tropical cyclone
tropical storms
aerodynamic drag
air
Air
wind speed
tropical meteorology
wind velocity
aerodynamics
slopes
Aerodynamic drag
control surfaces
hurricane
capillary waves
drag
drag coefficients
Hurricanes
towers

Keywords

  • drag coefficient
  • rapid decline
  • rapid intensification
  • sea surface
  • tropical cyclone
  • two-phase environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Forestry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Palaeontology

Cite this

Is the State of the Air-Sea Interface a Factor in Rapid Intensification and Rapid Decline of Tropical Cyclones? / Soloviev, Alexander V.; Lukas, Roger; Donelan, Mark A.; Haus, Brian K.; Ginis, Isaac.

In: Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, Vol. 122, No. 12, 01.12.2017, p. 10174-10183.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Soloviev, Alexander V. ; Lukas, Roger ; Donelan, Mark A. ; Haus, Brian K. ; Ginis, Isaac. / Is the State of the Air-Sea Interface a Factor in Rapid Intensification and Rapid Decline of Tropical Cyclones?. In: Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans. 2017 ; Vol. 122, No. 12. pp. 10174-10183.
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