Importance of Mid-Level Moisture for Tropical Cyclone Formation in Easterly and Monsoon Environments over the Western North Pacific

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • 2 University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
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Abstract

This study explores the importance of mid-level moisture for tropical cyclone (TC) formation in monsoon and easterly environments over the western North Pacific in regional simulations (15-km resolution). The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model is used to simulate 22 TCs that form in monsoon environments (MTCs) and 13 TCs that form in easterly environments (ETCs) over the period 2006–2010. To characterize the moisture contribution, simulations with mid-level moisture improved through assimilation of global positioning system (GPS) radio occultation (RO) data (labeled as EPH) are compared to those without (labeled as GTS). In general, the probability of TC formation being detected in the simulations is higher for MTCs than ETCs, regardless of GPS RO assimilation, especially for the monsoon trough environment. Fifty-four percent of ETC formations are sensitive to the mid-level moisture patterns, while only 18% for MTC formations are sensitive, indicating the importance of mid-level moisture is higher for ETC formations. Because of a model dry bias, the simulation of TC formation in an observed environment with lower vorticity but higher moisture is sensitive to the moisture increase through GPS RO data. Sensitivity experiments show that if the moisture in GTS is replaced by that in EPH, the TC formation can be detected in the GTS simulations. In turn, the TC formation cannot be detected in the EPH simulations with GTS moisture. The mechanism causing the difference in simulation performance of TC formation is attributed to more diabatic heating release and stronger positive potential vorticity tendency at mid-levels around the disturbance center caused by the higher moisture magnitudes.

Corresponding author: Dr. Hsu-Feng Teng, National Center for Atmospheric Research, 3450 Mitchell Ln, Boulder, CO 80301, USA, tenghsufeng@gmail.com

Abstract

This study explores the importance of mid-level moisture for tropical cyclone (TC) formation in monsoon and easterly environments over the western North Pacific in regional simulations (15-km resolution). The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model is used to simulate 22 TCs that form in monsoon environments (MTCs) and 13 TCs that form in easterly environments (ETCs) over the period 2006–2010. To characterize the moisture contribution, simulations with mid-level moisture improved through assimilation of global positioning system (GPS) radio occultation (RO) data (labeled as EPH) are compared to those without (labeled as GTS). In general, the probability of TC formation being detected in the simulations is higher for MTCs than ETCs, regardless of GPS RO assimilation, especially for the monsoon trough environment. Fifty-four percent of ETC formations are sensitive to the mid-level moisture patterns, while only 18% for MTC formations are sensitive, indicating the importance of mid-level moisture is higher for ETC formations. Because of a model dry bias, the simulation of TC formation in an observed environment with lower vorticity but higher moisture is sensitive to the moisture increase through GPS RO data. Sensitivity experiments show that if the moisture in GTS is replaced by that in EPH, the TC formation can be detected in the GTS simulations. In turn, the TC formation cannot be detected in the EPH simulations with GTS moisture. The mechanism causing the difference in simulation performance of TC formation is attributed to more diabatic heating release and stronger positive potential vorticity tendency at mid-levels around the disturbance center caused by the higher moisture magnitudes.

Corresponding author: Dr. Hsu-Feng Teng, National Center for Atmospheric Research, 3450 Mitchell Ln, Boulder, CO 80301, USA, tenghsufeng@gmail.com
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