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Yimin Ma, Noel E. Davidson, Yi Xiao, and Jian-Wen Bao


In high-wind conditions, sea spray, in conjunction with a generally decreasing drag coefficient for increasing winds, greatly modulates surface heat and momentum fluxes. It has been suggested that the process can be particularly important for the prediction of tropical cyclones (TCs), yet its robust application in operational forecast systems has remained elusive. A sea spray inclusion scheme and a modified algorithm for momentum exchange have been implemented in the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s current operational TC model. Forecasts for a limited sample of TCs demonstrate that the revised parameterizations improve initialized and forecast intensities, while mostly maintaining track prediction skill. TC Yasi (2011) has been studied for impacts of the revised parameterization on rapid intensification (RI). Compared with the conventional bulk air–sea exchange parameterization, the revised version simulates a cooler and moister region near the surface in the eyewall/eye region, adjusts the RI evolution by an earlier and stronger subsidence in the eye, and simulates a stronger radial pulsating of the eye and eyewall convection on relatively short time scales. The inclusion of the new scheme enhances RI features characterized by eyewall ascent, radial convergence, and inertial stability inside the radius of azimuthal-mean maximum wind over low- to midlevels, and by a ringlike radial distribution of relative vorticity above the boundary layer. In addition, it allows a higher maximum intensity wind speed based on Emanuel’s maximum potential intensity theory. It is shown that, as expected, this is mainly because of a larger ratio of enthalpy and momentum exchange coefficients.

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