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Patrick Duran and John Molinari

Abstract

Upper-level static stability (N 2) variations can influence the evolution of the transverse circulation and potential vorticity in intensifying tropical cyclones (TCs). This paper examines these variations during the rapid intensification (RI) of a simulated TC. Over the eye, N 2 near the tropopause decreases and the cold-point tropopause rises by up to 4 km at the storm center. Outside of the eye, N 2 increases considerably just above the cold-point tropopause and the tropopause remains near its initial level. A budget analysis reveals that the advection terms, which include differential advection of potential temperature θ and direct advection of N 2, are important throughout the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. These terms are particularly pronounced within the eye, where they destabilize the layer near and above the cold-point tropopause. Outside of the eye, a radial–vertical circulation develops during RI, with strong outflow below the tropopause and weak inflow above. Differential advection of θ near the outflow jet provides forcing for stabilization below the outflow maximum and destabilization above. Turbulence induced by vertical wind shear on the flanks of the outflow maximum also modifies the vertical stability profile. Meanwhile, radiative cooling tendencies at the top of the cirrus canopy generally act to destabilize the upper troposphere and stabilize the lower stratosphere. The results suggest that turbulence and radiation, alongside differential advection, play fundamental roles in the upper-level N 2 evolution of TCs. These N 2 tendencies could have implications for both the TC diurnal cycle and the tropopause-layer potential vorticity evolution in TCs.

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