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Patrick Duran and John Molinari

Abstract

Dropsondes with horizontal spacing as small as 4 km were released from the stratosphere in rapidly intensifying Hurricane Patricia (2015) during the Office of Naval Research Tropical Cyclone Intensity experiment. These observations provide cross sections of unprecedented resolution through the inner core of a hurricane. On 21 October, Patricia exhibited a strong tropopause inversion layer (TIL) across its entire circulation, with a maximum magnitude of 5.1 K (100 m)−1. This inversion weakened between 21 and 22 October as potential temperature θ increased by up to 16 K just below the tropopause and decreased by up to 14 K in the lower stratosphere. Between 22 and 23 October, the TIL over the eye weakened further, allowing the tropopause to rise by 1 km. Meanwhile over Patricia’s secondary eyewall, the TIL restrengthened and bulged upward by about 700 m into what was previously the lower stratosphere. These observations support many aspects of recent modeling studies, including eyewall penetration into the stratosphere during rapid intensification (RI), the existence of a narrow inflow layer near the tropopause, and the role of subsidence from the stratosphere in developing an upper-level warm core. Three mechanisms of inner-core tropopause variability are hypothesized: destabilization of the TIL through turbulent mixing, weakening of the TIL over the eye through upper-tropospheric subsidence warming, and increasing tropopause height forced by overshooting updrafts in the eyewall. None of these processes are seen as the direct cause of RI, but rather part of the RI process that includes strong increases in boundary layer moist entropy.

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Erika L. Duran, Emily B. Berndt, and Patrick Duran

Abstract

Hyperspectral infrared satellite sounding retrievals are used to examine thermodynamic changes in the tropical cyclone (TC) environment associated with the diurnal cycle of radiation. Vertical profiles of temperature and moisture are retrieved from the Suomi National Polar–orbiting Partnership (S–NPP) satellite system, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)–20, and the Meteorological Operational (MetOp) A/B satellite system, leveraging both infrared and microwave sounding technologies. Vertical profiles are binned radially based on distance from the storm center and composited at 4–hr intervals to reveal the evolution of the diurnal cycle. For the three cases examined – Hurricane Dorian (2019), Hurricane Florence (2018) and Hurricane Irma (2017) – a marked diurnal signal is evident that extends through a deep layer of the troposphere. Statistically significant differences at the 95% level are observed in temperature, moisture, and lapse rate profiles, indicating a moistening and destabilization of the mid to upper troposphere that is more pronounced near the inner core of the TC at night. Observations support a favorable environment for the formation of deep convection caused by diurnal differences in radiative heating tendencies, which could partially explain why new diurnal pulses tend to form around sunset. These findings demonstrate that the diurnal cycle of radiation affects TC thermodynamics through a deep layer of the troposphere, and suggest that hyperspectral infrared satellite sounding retrievals are valuable assets in detecting thermodynamic variations in TCs.

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