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The Influence of Uniform Flow on Tropical Cyclone Intensity Change

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  • 1 Laboratory for Atmospheric Research, Department of Physics and Materials Science, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
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Abstract

The influence of a uniform flow on the structural changes of a tropical cyclone (TC) is investigated using the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5). Idealized experiments are performed on either an f plane or a β plane. A strong uniform flow on an f plane results in a weaker vortex due to the development of a vertical wind shear induced by the asymmetric vertical motion and a rotation of upper-level anticyclone. The asymmetric vertical motion also reduces the secondary circulation of the vortex.

On a β plane with no flow, a broad anticyclonic flow is found to the southeast of the vortex, which expands with time. Similar to the f-plane case, asymmetric vertical motion and vertical wind shear are also found. This beta-induced shear weakens the no-flow case significantly relative to that on an f plane. When a uniform flow is imposed on a β plane, an easterly flow produces a stronger asymmetry whereas a westerly flow reduces it. In addition, an easterly uniform flow tends to strengthen the beta-induced shear whereas a westerly flow appears to reduce it by altering the magnitude and direction of the shear vector. As a result, a westerly flow enhances TC development while an easterly flow reduces it.

The vortex tilt and midlevel warming found in this study agree with the previous investigations of vertical wind shear. A strong uniform flow with a constant f results in a tilted and deformed potential vorticity at the upper levels. For a variable f, such tilting is more pronounced for a vortex in an easterly flow, while a westerly flow reduces the tilt. In addition, the vortex tilt appears to be related to the midlevel warming such that the warm core in the lower troposphere cannot extent upward, which leads to the subsequent weakening of the TC.

Corresponding author address: Johnny C. L. Chan, Department of Physics and Materials Science, City University of Hong Kong, Tat Chee Ave., Kowloon, Hong Kong, China. Email: Johnny.Chan@cityu.edu.hk

Abstract

The influence of a uniform flow on the structural changes of a tropical cyclone (TC) is investigated using the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5). Idealized experiments are performed on either an f plane or a β plane. A strong uniform flow on an f plane results in a weaker vortex due to the development of a vertical wind shear induced by the asymmetric vertical motion and a rotation of upper-level anticyclone. The asymmetric vertical motion also reduces the secondary circulation of the vortex.

On a β plane with no flow, a broad anticyclonic flow is found to the southeast of the vortex, which expands with time. Similar to the f-plane case, asymmetric vertical motion and vertical wind shear are also found. This beta-induced shear weakens the no-flow case significantly relative to that on an f plane. When a uniform flow is imposed on a β plane, an easterly flow produces a stronger asymmetry whereas a westerly flow reduces it. In addition, an easterly uniform flow tends to strengthen the beta-induced shear whereas a westerly flow appears to reduce it by altering the magnitude and direction of the shear vector. As a result, a westerly flow enhances TC development while an easterly flow reduces it.

The vortex tilt and midlevel warming found in this study agree with the previous investigations of vertical wind shear. A strong uniform flow with a constant f results in a tilted and deformed potential vorticity at the upper levels. For a variable f, such tilting is more pronounced for a vortex in an easterly flow, while a westerly flow reduces the tilt. In addition, the vortex tilt appears to be related to the midlevel warming such that the warm core in the lower troposphere cannot extent upward, which leads to the subsequent weakening of the TC.

Corresponding author address: Johnny C. L. Chan, Department of Physics and Materials Science, City University of Hong Kong, Tat Chee Ave., Kowloon, Hong Kong, China. Email: Johnny.Chan@cityu.edu.hk

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