The Response of the Near-Surface Tropical Cyclone Wind Field to Inland Surface Roughness Length and Soil Moisture Content during and after Landfall

James Hlywiak, David S. Nolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The sensitivity of the inland wind decay to realistic inland surface roughness lengths and soil moisture contents is evaluated for strong, idealized tropical cyclones (TCs) of category 4 strength making landfall. Results show that the relative sensitivities to roughness and moisture differ throughout the decay process, and are dependent on the strength and size of the vortex. First, within 12 h of landfall, intense winds at the surface decay rapidly in reaction to the sudden change in surface roughness and decreasing enthalpy fluxes. Wind speeds above the boundary layer decay at a slower rate. Differences in soil moisture contents minimally affect intensity during the first 12 h, as the enhancement of latent heat fluxes from high moisture contents is countered by enhanced surface cooling. After TCs decay to tropical storm intensities, weakening slows and the sensitivity of the intensity decay to soil moisture increases. Increased latent heating becomes significant enough to combat surface temperature cooling, resulting in enhanced convection outside of the expanding radius of maximum winds. This supports a slower decay. Additionally, the decay of the radial wind profile by quadrant is highly asymmetric, as the rear and left-of-motion quadrants decay the fastest. Increasing surface roughness accelerates the decay of the strongest winds, while increasing soil moisture slows the decay of the larger TC wind field. Results have implications for inland forecasting of TC winds and understanding the potential for damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)983-1000
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Volume78
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Boundary layer
  • Hurricanes/typhoons
  • Numerical analysis/modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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