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Influences of Asymmetric Heating on Hurricane Evolution in the MM5

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  • 1 Meteorological Institute, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, Germany
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Abstract

While previous idealized studies have demonstrated the importance of asymmetric atmospheric features in the intensification of a symmetric tropical cyclone vortex, the role of convectively generated asymmetries in creating changes in the azimuthally averaged cyclone is not well understood. In the present study the full-physics nonhydrostatic fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research (PSU–NCAR) Mesoscale Model (MM5) is used to evaluate the influence of such asymmetries. Rather than adding winds and temperatures in balance with a specified potential vorticity (PV) asymmetry, or temperature perturbations themselves, to a symmetric vortex as in previous studies, a diabatic heating asymmetry is imposed on a spunup model hurricane. The impact of short-duration eyewall-scale monochromatic azimuthal wavenumber diabatic heating on the short- and long-term evolution of the azimuthally averaged vortex is evaluated, and a tangential wind budget is made to determine the mechanisms responsible for the short-term impact.

It is found that the small eddy kick created by the additional diabatic heating asymmetry leads to a substantially amplified long-term change in the azimuthally averaged vortex, with episodes of strong relative weakening and strengthening following at irregular intervals. This behavior is diabatically controlled. It is also found that the symmetric secondary circulation can be active in creating short-term changes in the vortex, and is not simply a passive response as in previous studies with dry physics. A central conclusion of the study is that the structure of the spunup hurricane vortex, in particular preexisting asymmetric features, can have a substantial influence on the character of the response to an additional diabatic heating asymmetry. The results also imply that a small change in the factors that control convective activity will have a substantial lasting consequence for the intensification of a hurricane.

Corresponding author address: Dr. J. Dominique Möller, Meteorological Institute, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Theresienstr. 37, 80333 Munich, Germany. Email: nique@meteo.physik.uni-muenchen.de

Abstract

While previous idealized studies have demonstrated the importance of asymmetric atmospheric features in the intensification of a symmetric tropical cyclone vortex, the role of convectively generated asymmetries in creating changes in the azimuthally averaged cyclone is not well understood. In the present study the full-physics nonhydrostatic fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research (PSU–NCAR) Mesoscale Model (MM5) is used to evaluate the influence of such asymmetries. Rather than adding winds and temperatures in balance with a specified potential vorticity (PV) asymmetry, or temperature perturbations themselves, to a symmetric vortex as in previous studies, a diabatic heating asymmetry is imposed on a spunup model hurricane. The impact of short-duration eyewall-scale monochromatic azimuthal wavenumber diabatic heating on the short- and long-term evolution of the azimuthally averaged vortex is evaluated, and a tangential wind budget is made to determine the mechanisms responsible for the short-term impact.

It is found that the small eddy kick created by the additional diabatic heating asymmetry leads to a substantially amplified long-term change in the azimuthally averaged vortex, with episodes of strong relative weakening and strengthening following at irregular intervals. This behavior is diabatically controlled. It is also found that the symmetric secondary circulation can be active in creating short-term changes in the vortex, and is not simply a passive response as in previous studies with dry physics. A central conclusion of the study is that the structure of the spunup hurricane vortex, in particular preexisting asymmetric features, can have a substantial influence on the character of the response to an additional diabatic heating asymmetry. The results also imply that a small change in the factors that control convective activity will have a substantial lasting consequence for the intensification of a hurricane.

Corresponding author address: Dr. J. Dominique Möller, Meteorological Institute, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Theresienstr. 37, 80333 Munich, Germany. Email: nique@meteo.physik.uni-muenchen.de

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