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Peter T. May, J. D. Kepert, and T. D. Keenan

Abstract

Tropical Cyclone Ingrid had a distinctly asymmetric reflectivity structure with an offshore maximum as it passed parallel to and over an extended coastline near a polarimetric weather radar located near Darwin, northern Australia. For the first time in a tropical cyclone, polarimetric weather radar microphysical analyses are used to identify extensive graupel and rain–hail mixtures in the eyewall. The overall microphysical structure was similar to that seen in some other asymmetric storms that have been sampled by research aircraft. Both environmental shear and the land–sea interface contributed significantly to the asymmetry, but their relative contributions were not determined. The storm also underwent very rapid changes in tangential wind speed as it moved over a narrow region of open ocean between a peninsula and the Tiwi Islands. The time scale for changes of 10 m s−1 was of the order of 1 h. There were also two distinct types of rainbands observed—large-scale principal bands with embedded deep convection and small-scale bands located within 50 km of the eyewall with shallow convective cells.

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Yuqing Wang, Jeff D. Kepert, and Greg J. Holland

Abstract

Strong winds in a tropical cyclone over the ocean can produce high seas with substantial amounts of spray in the lower part of the atmospheric boundary layer. The effects that the evaporation of this sea spray may have on the transfer of energy between the ocean and the atmosphere, and consequent effects on the boundary layer structure, cumulus convection, and the evolution of the tropical cyclone, are largely unknown. In this study, a high-resolution tropical cyclone model with explicit cloud microphysics, developed by Y. Wang, has been used to study these potential effects. The sea spray evaporation is incorporated into the model by two bulk parameterization schemes with quite different properties.

The numerical results show that inclusion of the Fairall et al. sea spray parameterization increases the direct sensible heat flux from the ocean by about 70%, but has little effect on the direct latent heat flux. Sea spray itself causes a sensible heat flux of only about 6% of the direct sensible heat flux, while it contributes a latent heat flux by evaporation of sea spray droplets by 60%–70% of the direct latent heat flux. As a result, the total enthalpy flux with sea spray evaporation increases by about 20%, while the net contribution by sea spray is only about 1.5% of the total enthalpy flux. Consistent with this, the intensity of the model tropical cyclone is moderately increased by 8% in the maximum wind speed by the introduction of sea spray. The lower atmosphere becomes cooler and moister due to the evaporation of sea spray, which is supported by the available observations. The cooling in the surface layer further modifies the boundary layer structure and the activity of convection, especially in the near-core region where the highest concentration of sea spray exists.

On the other hand, with the Andreas and DeCosmo parameterization scheme, the intensity of the model tropical cyclone is increased by 25% in maximum wind speed. This dramatic increase in the model tropical cyclone intensity is due to both the large net sensible heat flux and the latent heat flux associated with the effect of sea spray by this parameterization scheme. The net upward sensible heat flux warms the air near the surface and results in a near-isothermal surface layer in the near-core environment under the tropical cyclone. Such a structure, however, is not supported by the available observations, which the authors argue is not physically realistic. The radically different results with this scheme are due to the unusual way that the feedbacks between direct and spray-mediated fluxes are handled within the parameterization.

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Kevin J. Tory, William Thurston, and Jeffrey D. Kepert

Abstract

In favorable atmospheric conditions, fires can produce pyrocumulonimbus cloud (pyroCb) in the form of deep convective columns resembling conventional thunderstorms, which may be accompanied by strong inflow, dangerous downbursts, and lightning strikes that can produce dangerous changes in fire behavior. PyroCb formation conditions are not well understood and are difficult to forecast. This paper presents a theoretical study of the thermodynamics of fire plumes to better understand the influence of a range of factors on plume condensation. Plume gases are considered to be undiluted at the fire source and approach 100% dilution at the plume top (neutral buoyancy). Plume condensation height changes are considered for this full range of dilution and for a given set of factors that include environmental temperature and humidity, fire temperature, and fire-moisture-to-heat ratios. The condensation heights are calculated and plotted as saturation point (SP) curves on thermodynamic diagrams. The position and slope of the SP curves provide insight into how plume condensation is affected by the environment thermodynamics and ratios of fire heat to moisture production. Plume temperature traces from large-eddy model simulations added to the diagrams provide additional insight into plume condensation heights and plume buoyancy at condensation. SP curves added to a mixed layer lifting condensation level on standard thermodynamic diagrams can be used to identify the minimum plume condensation height and buoyancy required for deep, moist, free convection to develop, which will aid pyroCb prediction.

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Noel E. Davidson, Yi Xiao, Yimin Ma, Harry C. Weber, Xudong Sun, Lawrie J. Rikus, Jeff D. Kepert, Peter X. Steinle, Gary S. Dietachmayer, Charlie C. F. Lok, James Fraser, Joan Fernon, and Hakeem Shaik

Abstract

The Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator (ACCESS) has been adapted for operational and research applications on tropical cyclones. The base system runs at a resolution of 0.11° and 50 levels. The domain is relocatable and nested in coarser-resolution ACCESS forecasts. Initialization consists of five cycles of four-dimensional variational data assimilation (4DVAR) over 24 h. Forecasts to 72 h are made. Without vortex specification, initial conditions usually contain a weak and misplaced circulation pattern. Significant effort has been devoted to building physically based, synthetic inner-core structures, validated using historical dropsonde data and surface analyses from the Atlantic. Based on estimates of central pressure and storm size, vortex specification is used to filter the analyzed circulation from the original analysis, construct an inner core of the storm, locate it to the observed position, and merge it with the large-scale analysis at outer radii.

Using all available conventional observations and only synthetic surface pressure observations from the idealized vortex to correct the initial location and structure of the storm, the 4DVAR builds a balanced, intense 3D vortex with maximum wind at the radius of maximum wind and with a well-developed secondary circulation. Mean track and intensity errors for Australian region and northwest Pacific storms have been encouraging, as are recent real-time results from the Australian National Meteorological and Oceanographic Centre. The system became fully operational in November 2011. From preliminary diagnostics, some interesting structure change features are illustrated. Current limitations, future enhancements, and research applications are also discussed.

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