The Effects of Environmental Wind Shear Direction on Tropical Cyclone Boundary Layer Thermodynamics and Intensity Change from Multiple Observational Datasets

Joshua B. Wadler, Joseph J. Cione, Jun A. Zhang, Evan A. Kalina, John Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The relationship between deep-layer environmental wind shear direction and tropical cyclone (TC) boundary layer thermodynamic structures is explored in multiple independent databases. Analyses derived from the tropical cyclone buoy database (TCBD) show that when TCs experience northerly component shear, the 10-m equivalent potential temperature ue tends to be more symmetric than when shear has a southerly component. The primary asymmetry in ue in TCs experiencing southerly component shear is radially outward from 2 times the radius of maximum wind speed, with the left-of-shear quadrants having lower ue by 4-6 K than the right-of-shear quadrants. As with the TCBD, an asymmetric distribution of 10-m ue for TCs experiencing southerly component shear and a symmetric distribution of 10-m ue for TCs experiencing northerly component shear was found using composite observations from dropsondes. These analyses show that differences in the degree of symmetry near the sea surface extend through the depth of the boundary layer. Additionally, mean dropsonde profiles illustrate that TCs experiencing northerly component shear are more potentially unstable between 500- and 1000-m altitude, signaling a more favorable environment for the development of surface-based convection in rainband regions. Analyses from the Statistical Hurricane Intensity Prediction Scheme (SHIPS) database show that subsequent strengthening for TCs in the Atlantic Ocean basin preferentially occurs in northerly component deep-layer environmental wind shear environments whereas subsequent weakening preferentially occurs in southerly component wind shear environments, which further illustrates that the asymmetric distribution of boundary layer thermodynamics is unfavorable for TC intensification. These differences emphasize the impact of deep-layer wind shear direction on TC intensity changes that likely result from the superposition of large-scale advection with the shear-relative asymmetries in TC structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-134
Number of pages20
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Volume150
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Boundary layer
  • Synoptic-scale processes
  • Thermodynamics
  • Tropical cyclones
  • Wind shear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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