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Effects of Convective Heating on Movement and Vertical Coupling of Tropical Cyclones: A Numerical Study

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii
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Abstract

The influence of convective heating on movement and vertical coupling of tropical cyclones (TCs) is investigated using a hurricane model with different environmental flows. The authors identify two processes by which convective heating may affect TC motion. One is the advection of symmetric potential vorticity (PV) by heating-induced asymmetric flow. The other is the direct generation of a positive PV tendency by asymmetric heating, which acts to shift a TC to the region of maximum downward gradient of asymmetric heating. A steering level exists that is located at the level where the direct influence of asymmetric heating vanishes, normally in the lower troposphere. At that level, a TC moves with the asymmetric flow averaged within a radius of 200 km, because the influence of asymmetric flows on TC motion is weighted by the horizontal PV gradient that is primarily confined within the TC core. Although the vertical shear in the asymmetric flow (including environmental and heating-induced flows) could tilt the vortex, the influence of asymmetric heating tends to offset the vertical tilt caused by the vertical shear through a fast adjustment between the asymmetric wind and diabatic heating. Therefore, diabatic heating enhances the vertical coupling.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Bin Wang, Department of Meteorology and International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822. Email: bwang@soest.hawaii.edu

Abstract

The influence of convective heating on movement and vertical coupling of tropical cyclones (TCs) is investigated using a hurricane model with different environmental flows. The authors identify two processes by which convective heating may affect TC motion. One is the advection of symmetric potential vorticity (PV) by heating-induced asymmetric flow. The other is the direct generation of a positive PV tendency by asymmetric heating, which acts to shift a TC to the region of maximum downward gradient of asymmetric heating. A steering level exists that is located at the level where the direct influence of asymmetric heating vanishes, normally in the lower troposphere. At that level, a TC moves with the asymmetric flow averaged within a radius of 200 km, because the influence of asymmetric flows on TC motion is weighted by the horizontal PV gradient that is primarily confined within the TC core. Although the vertical shear in the asymmetric flow (including environmental and heating-induced flows) could tilt the vortex, the influence of asymmetric heating tends to offset the vertical tilt caused by the vertical shear through a fast adjustment between the asymmetric wind and diabatic heating. Therefore, diabatic heating enhances the vertical coupling.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Bin Wang, Department of Meteorology and International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822. Email: bwang@soest.hawaii.edu

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