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Michael L. Black, Robert W. Burpee, and Frank D. Marks Jr.

Abstract

Vertical motions in seven Atlantic hurricanes are determined from data recorded by Doppler radars on research aircraft. The database consists of Doppler velocities and reflectivities from vertically pointing radar rays collected along radial flight legs through the hurricane centers. The vertical motions are estimated throughout the depth of the troposphere from the Doppler velocities and bulk estimates of particle fallspeeds.

Portions of the flight tracks are subjectively divided into eyewall, rainband, stratiform, and “other” regions. Characteristics of the vertical velocity and radar structure are described as a function of altitude for the entire dataset and each of the four regions. In all of the regions, more than 70% of the vertical velocities range from −2 to 2 m s−1. The broadest distribution of vertical motion is in the eyewall region where ∼5% of the vertical motions are >5 m s−1. Averaged over the entire dataset, the mean vertical velocity is upward at all altitudes. Mean downward motion occurs only in the lower troposphere of the stratiform region. Significant vertical variations in the mean profiles of vertical velocity and reflectivity are discussed and related to microphysical processes.

In the lower and middle troposphere, the characteristics of the Doppler-derived vertical motions are similar to those described in an earlier study using flight-level vertical velocities, even though the horizontal resolution of the Doppler data is ∼750 m compared to ∼125 m from the in situ flight-level measurements. The Doppler data are available at higher altitudes than those reached by turboprop aircraft and provide information on vertical as well as horizontal variations. In a vertical plane along the radial flight tracks, Doppler up- and downdrafts are defined at each 300-m altitude interval as vertical velocities whose absolute values continuously exceed 1.5 m s−1, with at least one speed having an absolute value greater than 3.0 m s−1. The properties of the Doppler drafts are lognormally distributed. In each of the regions, updrafts outnumber downdrafts by at least a factor of 2 and updrafts are wider and stronger than downdrafts. Updrafts in the eyewall slope radially outward with height and are significantly correlated over larger radial and vertical extents than in the other three regions. If the downwind (tangential) slope with height of updrafts varies little among the regions, updrafts capable of transporting air with relatively large moist static energy from the boundary layer to the upper troposphere are primarily in the eyewall region. Downdrafts affect a smaller vertical and horizontal area than updrafts and have no apparent radial slope.

The total upward or downward mass flux is defined as the flux produced by all of the upward or downward Doppler vertical velocities. The maximum upward mass flux in all but the “other” region is near 1-km altitude, an indication that boundary-layer convergence is efficient in producing upward motion. Above the sea surface, the downward mass flux decreases with altitude. At every altitude, the total net mass flux is upward, except for the lower troposphere in the stratiform region where it is downward. Doppler-derived up- and downdrafts are a subset of the vertical velocity field that occupy small fractions of the total area, yet they contribute a substantial fraction to the total mass flux. In the eyewall and rainband regions, for example, the Doppler updrafts cover less than 30% of the area but are responsible for >75% and >50% to the total upward mass flux, respectively. The Doppler downdrafts typically encompass less than 10% of the area yet provide ∼50% of the total downward mass flux in the eyewall and ∼20% of the total downward flux in the rainband, stratiform, and “other” regions.

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Qingyun Zhao, Thomas L. Black, and Michael E. Baldwin

Abstract

An explicit cloud prediction scheme has been developed and incorporated into the Eta Model at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) to improve the cloud and precipitation forecasts. In this scheme, the cloud liquid water and cloud ice are explicitly predicted by adding only one prognostic equation of cloud mixing ratio to the model. Precipitation of rain and snow in this scheme is diagnostically calculated from the predicted cloud fields. The model-predicted clouds are also used in the model’s radiation calculations. Results from the parallel tests performed at NCEP show improvements in precipitation forecasts when prognostic cloud water is included. Compared with the diagnostic clouds, the model-predicted clouds are more accurate in both amount and position. Improvements in specific humidity forecasts have also been found, especially near the surface and above the freezing level.

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Stanley Gedzelman, James Lawrence, John Gamache, Michael Black, Edward Hindman, Robert Black, Jason Dunion, Hugh Willoughby, and Xiaoping Zhang

Abstract

Rain and water vapor were collected during flights in Hurricanes Olivia (1994), Opal (1995), Marilyn (1995), and Hortense (1995) and analyzed for their stable isotopic concentrations, or ratios, H2 18O:H2O and HDO:H2O. The spatial patterns and temporal changes of isotope ratios reflect details of a hurricane's structure, evolution, microphysics, and water budget. At all flight levels over the sea (850–475 hPa) the lowest isotope ratios occur in or near regions of stratiform rains between about 50 and 250 km from the eye. Isotope ratios are higher in the eyewall and were particularly high in the crescent-shaped eyewall of Hurricane Opal at a time when no rain was falling over a large area near the storm center. In Hurricane Olivia, isotope ratios decreased from 24 to 25 September after vertical and radial circulation weakened. A two-layer isotope model of a radially symmetric hurricane simulates these features. The low isotope ratios are caused by fractionation in extensive, thick, precipitating clouds with predominantly convergent low-level flow accompanied by removal of heavy isotopes by falling raindrops. Evaporation and isotope equilibration of sea spray increase isotope ratios of the ambient vapor and produce a deuterium excess or enrichment of D relative to 18O that increases with decreasing relative humidity and increasing wind speed. Model results show that sea spray supplies the eyewall with up to 50% of its water vapor and is largely responsible for its high isotope ratios.

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David J. Karoly, Mitchell T. Black, Andrew D. King, and Michael R. Grose
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Michael R. Grose, James S. Risbey, Mitchell T. Black, and David J. Karoly
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Frank D. Marks, Peter G. Black, Michael T. Montgomery, and Robert W. Burpee

Abstract

On 15 September 1989, one of NOAA’s WP-3D research aircraft, N42RF [lower aircraft (LA)], penetrated the eyewall of Hurricane Hugo. The aircraft had an engine fail in severe turbulence while passing the radius of maximum wind and before entering the eye at 450-m altitude. After the aircraft returned to controlled flight within the 7-km radius eye, it gained altitude gradually as it orbited in the eye. Observations taken during this period provide an updated model of the inner-core structure of an intense hurricane and suggest that LA penetrated an intense cyclonic vorticity maximum adjacent to the strongest convection in the eyewall [eyewall vorticity maximum (EVM)]. This EVM was distinct from the vortex-scale cyclonic circulation observed to orbit within the eye three times during the 1 h that LA circled in the eye. At the time, Hugo had been deepening rapidly for 12 h. The maximum flight-level tangential wind was 89 m s−1 at a radius of 12.5 km; however, the primary vortex peak tangential wind, derived from a 100-s filter of the flight-level data, was estimated to be 70 m s−1, also at 12.5-km radius. The primary vortex tangential wind was in approximate gradient wind balance, was characterized by a peak in angular velocity just inside the radius of maximum wind, and had an annular vorticity structure slightly interior to the angular velocity maximum. The EVM along the aircraft’s track was roughly 1 km in diameter with a peak cyclonic vorticity of 1.25 × 10−1 s−1. The larger circulation center, with a diameter >15 km, was observed within the eye and exhibited an average orbital period of 19 min. This period is about the same as that of the angular velocity maximum of the axisymmetric mean vortex and is in reasonable agreement with recent theoretical and model predictions of a persistent trochoidal “wobble” of circulation centers in mature hurricane-like vortices. This study is the first with in situ documentation of these vortical entities, which were recently hypothesized to be elements of a lower-tropospheric eye/eyewall mixing mechanism that supports strong storms.

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Kristen L. Corbosiero, John Molinari, Anantha R. Aiyyer, and Michael L. Black

Abstract

A portable data recorder attached to the Weather Surveillance Radar-1957 (WSR-57) in Apalachicola, Florida, collected 313 radar scans of the reflectivity structure within 150 km of the center of Hurricane Elena (in 1985) between 1310 and 2130 UTC 1 September. This high temporal and spatial (750 m) resolution dataset was used to examine the evolution of the symmetric and asymmetric precipitation structure in Elena as the storm rapidly strengthened and attained maximum intensity. Fourier decomposition of the reflectivity data into azimuthal wavenumbers revealed that the power in the symmetric (wavenumber 0) component dominated the reflectivity pattern at all times and all radii by at least a factor of 2. The wavenumber 1 asymmetry accounted for less than 20% of the power in the reflectivity field on average and was found to be forced by the environmental vertical wind shear.

The small-amplitude wavenumber 2 asymmetry in the core was associated with the appearance and rotation of an elliptical eyewall. This structure was visible for nearly 2 h and was noted to rotate cyclonically at a speed equal to half of the local tangential wind. Outside of the eyewall, individual peaks in the power in wavenumber 2 were associated with repeated instances of cyclonically rotating, outward-propagating inner spiral rainbands. Four separate convective bands were identified with an average azimuthal velocity of 25 m s−1, or ∼68% of the local tangential wind speed, and an outward radial velocity of 5.2 m s−1. The azimuthal propagation speeds of the elliptical eyewall and inner spiral rainbands were consistent with vortex Rossby wave theory.

The elliptical eyewall and inner spiral rainbands were seen only in the 6-h period prior to peak intensity, when rapid spinup of the vortex had produced an annular vorticity profile, similar to those that have been shown to support barotropic instability. The appearance of an elliptical eyewall was consistent with the breakdown of eyewall vorticity into mesovortices, asymmetric mixing between the eye and eyewall, and a slowing of the intensification rate. The inner spiral rainbands might have arisen from high eyewall vorticity ejected from the core during the mixing process. Alternatively, because the bands were noted to emanate from the vertical shear-forced deep convection in the northern eyewall, they could have formed through the axisymmetrization of the asymmetric diabatically generated eyewall vorticity.

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Sim D. Aberson, Michael L. Black, Robert A. Black, Robert W. Burpee, Joseph J. Cione, Christopher W. Landsea, and Frank D. Marks Jr.

In 1976 and 1977, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration purchased two customized WP-3D (P-3) aircraft to conduct tropical cyclone (TC) research. During their first 30 years, the P-3s have proved to be invaluable research platforms, obtaining data at the micro- to synoptic scale, with missions conducted in 134 TCs in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans and near Australia. Analyses of the observations led to many new insights about TC structure, dynamics, thermodynamics, and environmental interactions. The real-time use of the information by the National Hurricane and Environmental Modeling Centers of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), as well as later research, has helped to increase the accuracy of wind, flood, and storm surge forecasts and severe weather warnings and has resulted in significant improvements to operational numerical model guidance for TC-track forecasts. In commemoration of the first 30 years of research with these aircraft, this manuscript presents a brief overview of the instrumentation aboard the aircraft and the major research findings during this period.

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Robert Rogers, Sim Aberson, Michael Black, Peter Black, Joe Cione, Peter Dodge, Jason Dunion, John Gamache, John Kaplan, Mark Powell, Nick Shay, Naomi Surgi, and Eric Uhlhorn

In 2005, NOAA's Hurricane Research Division (HRD), part of the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, began a multiyear experiment called the Intensity Forecasting Experiment (IFEX). By emphasizing a partnership among NOAA's HRD, Environmental Modeling Center (EMC), National Hurricane Center (NHC), Aircraft Operations Center (AOC), and National Environmental Satellite Data Information Service (NESDIS), IFEX represents a new approach for conducting hurricane field program operations. IFEX is intended to improve the prediction of tropical cyclone (TC) intensity change by 1) collecting observations that span the TC life cycle in a variety of environments; 2) developing and refining measurement technologies that provide improved real-time monitoring of TC intensity, structure, and environment; and 3) improving the understanding of the physical processes important in intensity change for a TC at all stages of its life cycle.

This paper presents a summary of the accomplishments of IFEX during the 2005 hurricane season. New and refined technologies for measuring such fields as surface and three-dimensional wind fields, and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, were achieved in a variety of field experiments that spanned the life cycle of several tropical cyclones, from formation and early organization to peak intensity and subsequent landfall or extratropical transition. Partnerships with other experiments during 2005 also expanded the spatial and temporal coverage of the data collected in 2005. A brief discussion of the plans for IFEX in 2006 is also provided.

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Michael R. Grose, Mitchell Black, James S. Risbey, Peter Uhe, Pandora K. Hope, Karsten Haustein, and Dann Mitchell
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