Response of the Hurricane Boundary Layer to Changes of Sea Surface Temperature in a Numerical Model

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802
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Abstract

An axisymmetric, multilayer hurricane model is used to investigate the hurricane's response to sudden changes of sea surface temperature (SST). The model contains a parameterization of the planetary boundary layer (PBL) which includes matched formulations for the surface layer and the mixed layer. The heat, moisture and momentum fluxes are mutually dependent through Monin-Obukhov similarity theory.

The height of the model hurricane PEL is 400–500 m, below which the potential temperature and specific humidity are nearly invariant with height. The flow in the hurricane PBL is characterized by subgradient tangential velocities and nearly uniform cross-isobaric flow angles. The sensible heating from the ocean is insignificant, but the evaporation is large. The magnitudes of the equivalent drag coefficients are approximately one-third those of the exchange coefficients for heat and moisture.

As the SST is suddenly decreased (increased), the steady-state model hurricane experiences two stages of modification. The first stage consists of adjustments of the hurricane PBL featuring a weakened (enhanced) dynamic and thermodynamic coupling of the storm with the ocean. No important changes of intensity occur during this stage, which lasts several hours. The decrease (increase) of kinetic energy dissipation offsets part of the decrease (increase) of kinetic energy generation. The second stage is characterized by a steady modification of storm intensity. The fluctuations of intensity in these experiments are less pronounced than those shown by a similar model with a conventional bulk parameterization of the hurricane PBL.

Abstract

An axisymmetric, multilayer hurricane model is used to investigate the hurricane's response to sudden changes of sea surface temperature (SST). The model contains a parameterization of the planetary boundary layer (PBL) which includes matched formulations for the surface layer and the mixed layer. The heat, moisture and momentum fluxes are mutually dependent through Monin-Obukhov similarity theory.

The height of the model hurricane PEL is 400–500 m, below which the potential temperature and specific humidity are nearly invariant with height. The flow in the hurricane PBL is characterized by subgradient tangential velocities and nearly uniform cross-isobaric flow angles. The sensible heating from the ocean is insignificant, but the evaporation is large. The magnitudes of the equivalent drag coefficients are approximately one-third those of the exchange coefficients for heat and moisture.

As the SST is suddenly decreased (increased), the steady-state model hurricane experiences two stages of modification. The first stage consists of adjustments of the hurricane PBL featuring a weakened (enhanced) dynamic and thermodynamic coupling of the storm with the ocean. No important changes of intensity occur during this stage, which lasts several hours. The decrease (increase) of kinetic energy dissipation offsets part of the decrease (increase) of kinetic energy generation. The second stage is characterized by a steady modification of storm intensity. The fluctuations of intensity in these experiments are less pronounced than those shown by a similar model with a conventional bulk parameterization of the hurricane PBL.

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