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Propagation Directions of Ocean Surface Waves inside Tropical Cyclones

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  • 1 Remote Sensing Division, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C.
  • | 2 Physical Sciences Division, NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

Surface wave propagation inside tropical cyclones (TCs) is complicated and multiple wave systems are frequently observed. The directional wave spectra acquired by hurricane hunters are analyzed to quantify its azimuthal and radial variations. Referenced to the hurricane heading, the dominate feature in the front half of the TC coverage area is single wave systems propagating toward left and left-front. Multiple wave systems are generally observed in the back and right quarters outside the radius of maximum wind (RMW). The directional differences and locations of occurrences of multisystem spectra are Gaussian distributed. The directional differences of the secondary and tertiary wave systems from the primary system are centered around 60°–70°. The minor systems are more likely on the left-hand side of the primary system than on the right-hand side by a 3-to-1 ratio. The most likely azimuthal location of multisystem spectra is about 210° counterclockwise from the heading. In the right-front quarter, waves propagate into the advancing wind field and experience extended air–sea exchanges to grow higher and longer; in the left-rear quarter, they propagate away from the advancing wind field and are more likely younger seas. The radial variation of wave propagation is relatively minor except inside the RMW. A model describing the dominant wave propagation direction is presented. The regression statistics between modeled and measured wave directions show consistent agreement in 9 of the 11 datasets available for investigation. Causes for the significantly different statistics of the two remaining datasets include proximity to coast (a landfalling case) and rapid change in the hurricane translation speed or direction.

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

Corresponding author: Dr. Paul A. Hwang, paul.hwang@nrl.navy.mil

Abstract

Surface wave propagation inside tropical cyclones (TCs) is complicated and multiple wave systems are frequently observed. The directional wave spectra acquired by hurricane hunters are analyzed to quantify its azimuthal and radial variations. Referenced to the hurricane heading, the dominate feature in the front half of the TC coverage area is single wave systems propagating toward left and left-front. Multiple wave systems are generally observed in the back and right quarters outside the radius of maximum wind (RMW). The directional differences and locations of occurrences of multisystem spectra are Gaussian distributed. The directional differences of the secondary and tertiary wave systems from the primary system are centered around 60°–70°. The minor systems are more likely on the left-hand side of the primary system than on the right-hand side by a 3-to-1 ratio. The most likely azimuthal location of multisystem spectra is about 210° counterclockwise from the heading. In the right-front quarter, waves propagate into the advancing wind field and experience extended air–sea exchanges to grow higher and longer; in the left-rear quarter, they propagate away from the advancing wind field and are more likely younger seas. The radial variation of wave propagation is relatively minor except inside the RMW. A model describing the dominant wave propagation direction is presented. The regression statistics between modeled and measured wave directions show consistent agreement in 9 of the 11 datasets available for investigation. Causes for the significantly different statistics of the two remaining datasets include proximity to coast (a landfalling case) and rapid change in the hurricane translation speed or direction.

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

Corresponding author: Dr. Paul A. Hwang, paul.hwang@nrl.navy.mil
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