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Sensitivity in the Overland Reintensification of Tropical Cyclone Erin (2007) to Near-Surface Soil Moisture Characteristics

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
  • | 3 Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York
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Abstract

This study investigates the impact of abnormally moist soil conditions across the southern Great Plains upon the overland reintensification of North Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Erin (2007). This is tested by analyzing the contributions of three soil moisture–related signals—a seasonal signal, an along-track rainfall signal, and an early postlandfall rainfall signal—to the intensity of the vortex. In so doing, a suite of nine convection-permitting numerical simulations using the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF-ARW) is used. Of the signals tested, soil moisture contributions from the anomalously wet months preceding Erin are found to have the greatest positive impact upon the intensity of the vortex, though this impact is on the order of that from climatological soil moisture conditions. The greatest impact of the early rainfall signal contributions is found when it is added to the seasonal signal. Along-track rainfall during the simulation period has a minimal impact.

Variations in soil moisture content result in impacts upon the boundary layer thermodynamic environment via boundary layer mixing. Greater soil moisture content results in weaker mixing, a shallower boundary layer, and greater moisture and instability. Differences in the intensity of convection that develops and its accompanying latent heat release aloft result in greater warm-core development and surface vortex intensification within the simulations featuring greater soil moisture content. Implications of these findings to the tropical cyclone development process are discussed. Given that the reintensification is shown to occur in, apart from land, an otherwise favorable environment for tropical cyclone development and results in a vortex with a structure similar to developing tropical cyclones, these findings provide new insight into the conditions under which tropical cyclones develop.

Current affiliation: Atmospheric Science Group, Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Current affiliation: Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Current affiliation: National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Clark Evans, Dept. of Mathematical Sciences, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, P. O. Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413. E-mail: a.clark.evans@gmail.com

Abstract

This study investigates the impact of abnormally moist soil conditions across the southern Great Plains upon the overland reintensification of North Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Erin (2007). This is tested by analyzing the contributions of three soil moisture–related signals—a seasonal signal, an along-track rainfall signal, and an early postlandfall rainfall signal—to the intensity of the vortex. In so doing, a suite of nine convection-permitting numerical simulations using the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF-ARW) is used. Of the signals tested, soil moisture contributions from the anomalously wet months preceding Erin are found to have the greatest positive impact upon the intensity of the vortex, though this impact is on the order of that from climatological soil moisture conditions. The greatest impact of the early rainfall signal contributions is found when it is added to the seasonal signal. Along-track rainfall during the simulation period has a minimal impact.

Variations in soil moisture content result in impacts upon the boundary layer thermodynamic environment via boundary layer mixing. Greater soil moisture content results in weaker mixing, a shallower boundary layer, and greater moisture and instability. Differences in the intensity of convection that develops and its accompanying latent heat release aloft result in greater warm-core development and surface vortex intensification within the simulations featuring greater soil moisture content. Implications of these findings to the tropical cyclone development process are discussed. Given that the reintensification is shown to occur in, apart from land, an otherwise favorable environment for tropical cyclone development and results in a vortex with a structure similar to developing tropical cyclones, these findings provide new insight into the conditions under which tropical cyclones develop.

Current affiliation: Atmospheric Science Group, Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Current affiliation: Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Current affiliation: National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Clark Evans, Dept. of Mathematical Sciences, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, P. O. Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413. E-mail: a.clark.evans@gmail.com
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