Rapid Intensification of Typhoon Mujigae (2015) under Different Sea Surface Temperatures: Structural Changes Leading to Rapid Intensification

Xiaomin Chen Key Laboratory for Mesoscale Severe Weather, Ministry of Education, and School of Atmospheric Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China

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Ming Xue Key Laboratory for Mesoscale Severe Weather, Ministry of Education, and School of Atmospheric Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China, and Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, and School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

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Juan Fang Key Laboratory for Mesoscale Severe Weather, Ministry of Education, and School of Atmospheric Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China

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Abstract

The notable prelandfall rapid intensification (RI) of Typhoon Mujigae (2015) over abnormally warm water with moderate vertical wind shear (VWS) is investigated by performing a set of full-physics model simulations initialized with different sea surface temperatures (SSTs). While all experiments can reproduce RI, tropical cyclones (TCs) in cooler experiments initiate the RI 13 h later than those in warmer experiments. A comparison of structural changes preceding RI onset in two representative experiments with warmer and cooler SSTs (i.e., CTL and S1) indicates that both TCs undergo similar vertical alignment despite the moderate VWS. RI onset in CTL occurs ~8 h before the full vertical alignment, while that in S1 occurs ~5 h after. In both experiments precipitation becomes more symmetrically distributed around the vortex as vortex tilt decreases. In CTL, precipitation symmetricity is higher in the inner-core region, particularly for stratiform precipitation. All experiments indicate that RI onset occurs when the radius of maximum wind (RMW) contraction reaches a certain degree measured in terms of local Rossby number. The contraction occurs much earlier in CTL, leading to earlier RI. These results suggest that vertical alignment, albeit necessary, is not an effective RI indicator under different SSTs, while a more immediate cause of RI is the formation of a strong/compact inner core with high precipitation symmetry. Diagnoses using the Sawyer–Eliassen equation indicate that in CTL the enhanced microphysical diabatic heating of additional midlevel and deep convection along with surface friction contribute to stronger boundary layer inflow near/inside the RMW, facilitating earlier RMW contraction.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Ming Xue, mxue@ou.edu

Abstract

The notable prelandfall rapid intensification (RI) of Typhoon Mujigae (2015) over abnormally warm water with moderate vertical wind shear (VWS) is investigated by performing a set of full-physics model simulations initialized with different sea surface temperatures (SSTs). While all experiments can reproduce RI, tropical cyclones (TCs) in cooler experiments initiate the RI 13 h later than those in warmer experiments. A comparison of structural changes preceding RI onset in two representative experiments with warmer and cooler SSTs (i.e., CTL and S1) indicates that both TCs undergo similar vertical alignment despite the moderate VWS. RI onset in CTL occurs ~8 h before the full vertical alignment, while that in S1 occurs ~5 h after. In both experiments precipitation becomes more symmetrically distributed around the vortex as vortex tilt decreases. In CTL, precipitation symmetricity is higher in the inner-core region, particularly for stratiform precipitation. All experiments indicate that RI onset occurs when the radius of maximum wind (RMW) contraction reaches a certain degree measured in terms of local Rossby number. The contraction occurs much earlier in CTL, leading to earlier RI. These results suggest that vertical alignment, albeit necessary, is not an effective RI indicator under different SSTs, while a more immediate cause of RI is the formation of a strong/compact inner core with high precipitation symmetry. Diagnoses using the Sawyer–Eliassen equation indicate that in CTL the enhanced microphysical diabatic heating of additional midlevel and deep convection along with surface friction contribute to stronger boundary layer inflow near/inside the RMW, facilitating earlier RMW contraction.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Ming Xue, mxue@ou.edu
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