On momentum transport and dissipative heating during hurricane landfalls

Jun A. Zhang, Ping Zhu, Forrest J. Masters, Robert F. Rogers, Frank D. Marks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Momentum transport and dissipative heating are investigated using the high-resolution (10 Hz) wind data collected by Florida Coastal Monitoring Program portable weather stations in the surface layer of three landfalling hurricanes. The momentum flux is calculated using the eddy correlation method. The drag coefficient is determined from the momentum flux and surface wind speed. The values of the momentum flux and drag coefficient are found to be generally larger than those observed over the ocean at similar wind speeds up to near hurricane strength. The rate of dissipation is determined from the wind velocity spectra. The dissipative heating is estimated using two different methods: 1) integrating the rate of dissipation in the surface layer and 2) multiplying the drag coefficient by the cubic of the surface wind speed. It is found that the second method, which has been widely used in previous theoretical and numerical studies, significantly overestimates the magnitude of dissipative heating. This finding is consistent with a recent study on estimation of the dissipative heating over the ocean using in situ aircraft observations. This study is a first attempt at estimating the magnitude of dissipative heating in landfalling hurricanes using in situ observations. The results are believed to offer useful guidance in numerical weather prediction efforts aimed at improving the forecast of hurricane intensity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1397-1404
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Atmosphere-land interaction
  • Hurricanes
  • Momentum
  • Surface fluxes
  • Surface layer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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