Retrieved Thermodynamic Structure of Hurricane Rita (2005) from Airborne Multi-Doppler Radar Data

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI
  • 2 Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
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Abstract

The newly developed SAMURAI-TR is used to estimate three-dimensional temperature and pressure perturbations in Hurricane Rita on 23 September 2005 from multi-Doppler radar data during the RAINEX field campaign. These are believed to be the first fully three-dimensional gridded thermodynamic observations from a TC. Rita was a major hurricane at this time and was affected by 13 m s−1 deep-layer vertical wind shear. Analysis of the contributions of the kinematic and retrieved thermodynamic fields to different azimuthal wavenumbers suggests the interpretation of eyewall convective forcing within a three-level framework of balanced, quasi-balanced, and unbalanced motions. The axisymmetric, wavenumber-0 structure was approximately in thermal-wind balance, resulting in a large pressure drop and temperature increase toward the center. The wavenumber-1 structure was determined by the interaction of the storm with environmental vertical wind shear resulting in a quasi-balance between shear and shear-induced kinematic and thermo-dynamic perturbations. The observed wavenumber-1 thermodynamic asymmetries corroborate results of previous studies on the response of a vortex tilted by shear, and add new evidence that the vertical motion is nearly hydrostatic on the wavenumber-1 scale. Higher-order wavenumbers were associated with unbalanced motions and convective cells within the eyewall. The unbalanced vertical acceleration was positively correlated with buoyant forcing from thermal perturbations and negatively correlated with perturbation pressure gradients relative to the balanced vortex.

Corresponding author: Annette Boehm, foerster@hawaii.edu

Current Affiliation: Meteorologisches Observatorium Hohenpeissenberg, DeutscherWetterdienst, Hohenpeissenberg, Germany

Abstract

The newly developed SAMURAI-TR is used to estimate three-dimensional temperature and pressure perturbations in Hurricane Rita on 23 September 2005 from multi-Doppler radar data during the RAINEX field campaign. These are believed to be the first fully three-dimensional gridded thermodynamic observations from a TC. Rita was a major hurricane at this time and was affected by 13 m s−1 deep-layer vertical wind shear. Analysis of the contributions of the kinematic and retrieved thermodynamic fields to different azimuthal wavenumbers suggests the interpretation of eyewall convective forcing within a three-level framework of balanced, quasi-balanced, and unbalanced motions. The axisymmetric, wavenumber-0 structure was approximately in thermal-wind balance, resulting in a large pressure drop and temperature increase toward the center. The wavenumber-1 structure was determined by the interaction of the storm with environmental vertical wind shear resulting in a quasi-balance between shear and shear-induced kinematic and thermo-dynamic perturbations. The observed wavenumber-1 thermodynamic asymmetries corroborate results of previous studies on the response of a vortex tilted by shear, and add new evidence that the vertical motion is nearly hydrostatic on the wavenumber-1 scale. Higher-order wavenumbers were associated with unbalanced motions and convective cells within the eyewall. The unbalanced vertical acceleration was positively correlated with buoyant forcing from thermal perturbations and negatively correlated with perturbation pressure gradients relative to the balanced vortex.

Corresponding author: Annette Boehm, foerster@hawaii.edu

Current Affiliation: Meteorologisches Observatorium Hohenpeissenberg, DeutscherWetterdienst, Hohenpeissenberg, Germany

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