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Stephen R. Guimond
Gerald M. Heymsfield
, and
F. Joseph Turk


A synthesis of remote sensing and in situ observations throughout the life cycle of Hurricane Dennis (2005) during the NASA Tropical Cloud Systems and Processes (TCSP) experiment is presented. Measurements from the ER-2 Doppler radar (EDOP), the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU), airborne radiometer, and flight-level instruments are used to provide a multiscale examination of the storm. The main focus is an episode of deep convective bursts (“hot towers”) occurring during a mature stage of the storm and preceding a period of rapid intensification (11-hPa pressure drop in 1 h 35 min). The vigorous hot towers penetrated to 16-km height, had maximum updrafts of 20 m s−1 at 12–14-km height, and possessed a strong transverse circulation through the core of the convection. Significant downdrafts (maximum of 10–12 m s−1) on the flanks of the updrafts were observed, with their cumulative effects hypothesized to result in the observed increases in the warm core. In one ER-2 overpass, subsidence was transported toward the eye by 15–20 m s−1 inflow occurring over a deep layer (0.5–10 km) coincident with a hot tower.

Fourier analysis of the AMSU satellite measurements revealed a large shift in the storm’s warm core structure, from asymmetric to axisymmetric, ∼12 h after the convective bursts began. In addition, flight-level wind calculations of the axisymmetric tangential velocity and inertial stability showed a contraction of the maximum winds and an increase in the stiffness of the vortex, respectively, after the EDOP observations.

The multiscale observations presented here reveal unique, ultra-high-resolution details of hot towers and their coupling to the parent vortex, the balanced dynamics of which can be generally explained by the axisymmetrization and efficiency theories.

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