Tropical cyclone resistance to strong environmental shear

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It is widely known that strong vertical wind shear (exceeding 10ms21) often weakens tropical cyclones (TCs). However, in some circumstances, a TC is able to resist this strong shear and even restrengthen. To better understand this phenomenon, a series of idealized simulations are conducted, followed by a statistical investigation of 40 years of Northern Hemisphere TCs. In the idealized simulations, a TC is embedded within a time-varying point-downscaling framework, which is used to gradually increase the environmental vertical wind shear to 14ms21 and then hold it constant. This controlled framework also allows for the separation of the TC-induced flow from the prescribed environmental flow. The TC-induced outflow is found to withstand the strong upper-Tropospheric environmental flow, and this is manifested in the TC-induced shear difference (TCSD) vector. The TCSD vector, together with the environmental shear vector, defines an azimuthal range within which most of the asymmetric convection is located. The statistical analysis confirms the findings from the idealized simulations, and the results are not strongly sensitive to the TC intensity or basin. Moreover, compared with total shear, the inclusion of TCSD information creates a slightly better correlation with TC intensity change. Overall, the TCSD vector serves as a diagnostic to explain the ability of a TC to resist strong environmental shear through its outflow, and it could potentially be used as a parameter to predict future intensity change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1275-1293
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Tropical cyclones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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