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Sundararaman G. Gopalakrishnan, Frank Marks Jr., Jun A. Zhang, Xuejin Zhang, Jian-Wen Bao, and Vijay Tallapragada
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Sundararaman G. Gopalakrishnan, Frank Marks Jr., Jun A. Zhang, Xuejin Zhang, Jian-Wen Bao, and Vijay Tallapragada

Abstract

The Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) system was used in an idealized framework to gain a fundamental understanding of the variability in tropical cyclone (TC) structure and intensity prediction that may arise due to vertical diffusion. The modeling system uses the Medium-Range Forecast parameterization scheme. Flight-level data collected by a NOAA WP-3D research aircraft during the eyewall penetration of category 5 Hurricane Hugo (1989) at an altitude of about 450–500 m and Hurricane Allen (1980) were used as the basis to best match the modeled eddy diffusivities with wind speed. While reduction of the eddy diffusivity to a quarter of its original value produced the best match with the observations, such a reduction revealed a significant decrease in the height of the inflow layer as well which, in turn, drastically affected the size and intensity changes in the modeled TC. The cross-isobaric flow (inflow) was observed to be stronger with the decrease in the inflow depth. Stronger inflow not only increased the spin of the storm, enhancing the generalized Coriolis term in the equations of motion for tangential velocity, but also resulted in enhanced equivalent potential temperature in the boundary layer, a stronger and warmer core, and, subsequently, a stronger storm. More importantly, rapid acceleration of the inflow not only produced a stronger outflow at the top of the inflow layer, more consistent with observations, but also a smaller inner core that was less than half the size of the original.

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