The tropical cyclone diurnal cycle of mature hurricanes

Jason P. Dunion, Christopher D. Thorncroft, Christopher S. Velden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


The diurnal cycle of tropical convection and the tropical cyclone (TC) cirrus canopy has been described extensively in previous studies. However, a complete understanding of the TC diurnal cycle remains elusive and is an area of ongoing research. This work describes a new technique that uses infrared satellite image differencing to examine the evolution of the TC diurnal cycle for all North Atlantic major hurricanes from 2001 to 2010. The imagery reveals cyclical pulses in the infrared cloud field that regularly propagate radially outward from the storm. These diurnal pulses begin forming in the storm's inner core near the time of sunset each day and continue to move away from the storm overnight, reaching areas several hundreds of kilometers from the circulation center by the following afternoon.Amarked warming of the cloud tops occurs behind this propagating feature and there can be pronounced structural changes to a storm as it moves away from the inner core. This suggests that the TC diurnal cycle may be an important element of TC dynamics and may have relevance to TC structure and intensity change. Evidence is also presented showing the existence of statistically significant diurnal signals in TC wind radii and objective Dvorak satellite-based intensity estimates for the 10-yr hurricane dataset that was examined. Findings indicate that TC diurnal pulses are a distinguishing characteristic of the TC diurnal cycle and the repeatability of TC diurnal pulsing in time and space suggests that it may be an unrealized, yet fundamental TC process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3900-3919
Number of pages20
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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