The Role of Eyewall Turbulent Transport in the Pathway to Intensification of Tropical Cyclones

Ping Zhu, Andrew Hazelton, Zhan Zhang, Frank D. Marks, Vijay Tallapragada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

In a tropical cyclone (TC), turbulence not only exists in the planetary boundary layer (PBL) but also can be generated above the PBL by the cloud processes in the eyewall and rainbands. It is found that the Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System (HAFS), a new multi-scale operational model for TC prediction, fails to capture the intense turbulent mixing in eyewall and rainband clouds due to a poor estimation of static stability in clouds. The problem is fixed by including the effects of multi-phase water in the stability calculation. Simulations of 21 TCs and tropical storms in the North Atlantic basin of 2016–2019 hurricane seasons totaling 118 forecast cycles show that the stability correction substantially improves HAFS's skill in predicting storm track and intensity. Analyses of HAFS's simulations of Hurricane Michael (2018) show that the positive tendency of vortex's tangential wind resulting from the radially inward transport of absolute vorticity dominates the eddy correlation tendencies induced by the model-resolved asymmetric eddies and serves as a main mechanism for the rapid intensification of Michael. The sub-grid scale (SGS) turbulent transport above the PBL in the eyewall plays a pivotal role in initiating a positive feedback among the eyewall convection, mean secondary overturning circulation, vortex acceleration via the inward transport of absolute vorticity, surface evaporation, and radial convergence of moisture in the PBL. Without the SGS transport above the PBL, the model-resolved vertical transport alone may not be sufficient in initiating the positive feedback underlying the rapid intensification of TCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021JD034983
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Volume126
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 16 2021

Keywords

  • eyewall
  • numerical simulation
  • parameterization
  • rapid intensification
  • tropical cyclone
  • turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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