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Benjamin A. Schenkel

Abstract

The present study intercompares multiple tropical cyclone event (MTCE) characteristics among each global tropical cyclone (TC) basin using best-track data. Specific focus is placed on examining the number of MTCEs and TCs during MTCEs, the zonal distance between TCs during MTCEs, and the spatiotemporal separation between genesis events during MTCEs. The results suggest that the ratio of MTCEs relative to single TCs is substantially higher in the eastern North Pacific (ENP), western North Pacific (WNP), and south Indian Ocean (SI) basins compared to the North Atlantic (NA) and South Pacific (SP). The prolific nature of ENP, WNP, and SI MTCE activity results in approximately half of TCs occurring during MTCEs. During new TC genesis, the majority of preexisting TCs are generally located westward at a consistent zonal distance from new TC genesis for MTCEs within each basin with median values between −1620 and −1961 km. TC-induced Rossby wave dispersion may set this zonal length scale as implied by its moderate-to-strong correlations (R = 0.38–0.85; p < 0.05) with the shallow-water zonal wavelength of TC-induced stationary Rossby waves. A substantial majority of TC genesis events occur progressively eastward during ENP, WNP, and SP MTCEs, whereas NA and SI MTCEs exhibit no such tendency. Last, the temporal separation between the genesis of preexisting and new TCs is generally similar among basins with median values between 3 and 4 days. Together, these results are indicative of unusual similarity in MTCE characteristics among basins despite differences in environmental and TC characteristics in each basin.

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Benjamin A. Schenkel

Abstract

The present study provides a climatology of multiple tropical cyclone (TC) events (MTCEs) and the potential environmental factors responsible for triggering MTCEs in the North Atlantic (NATL), eastern North Pacific (EPAC), and western North Pacific (WPAC). While single TC events (STCEs) occur more frequently than MTCEs in each basin, a substantial fraction (34%–57%) of all TCs within each basin occur during MTCEs. Comparison of the total monthly number of MTCEs and STCEs reveals significant correlations (0.79 ≤ R ≤ 0.90), while nonsignificant correlations exist between the annual number of MTCEs and STCEs. New TCs that form during MTCEs occur in the eastern main development region east of the STCE formation location in the NATL and EPAC, while new TC formation locations are spread evenly throughout the WPAC during both MTCEs and STCEs. The spatiotemporal separation between TCs during MTCEs is consistent among basins with median zonal distances between TCs of ~(1640–2010) km and median temporal separation between TC formation of 3.00–3.25 days. Composites of EPAC MTCEs suggest the existence of significantly stronger large-scale intraseasonal anomalies compared to STCEs, which may favor EPAC MTCE occurrence. Eastward zonal group velocities and the agreement of the zonal wavelength of TC-induced Rossby waves with the observed zonal distance between TCs suggests that Rossby wave radiation may contribute to a substantial fraction of MTCEs in all basins. These results suggest remarkable similarity in MTCE characteristics among basins, while potentially indicating that the large-scale environment is preconditioned for EPAC MTCE occurrence.

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Benjamin A. Schenkel and Robert E. Hart

Abstract

The present study examines the environmental moisture anomalies present during western North Pacific tropical cyclone (TC) passage using storm-relative composites. Composited precipitable water anomalies reveal asymmetric anomalies with dry anomalies to the northwest and southwest of the TC and moist anomalies to the east of the TC. Precipitable water anomalies filtered in space and time suggest that the moisture anomalies in the northwest, southwest, and east regions (NWR, SWR, and ER, respectively) are partially due to the TC, while the anomalies in the SWR are also forced by a convectively suppressed Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) and equatorial Rossby wave (ERW). Composited vertically integrated moisture budgets and backward parcel trajectories reveal that the moisture anomalies in the NWR, SWR, and ER are primarily due to the convergence of climatological mean moisture by the anomalous meridional wind. This convergence is induced by the secondary circulation of the TC in the NWR and ER and by inertial instability induced by the TC, MJO, and ERW in the SWR and ER as also suggested by prior work. Dry anomalies in the NWR are also forced by the advection of moisture by lower-tropospheric northerly wind anomalies associated with the primary circulation of the TC. Together with prior work, these results suggest that TCs can have significant impacts on their large-scale atmospheric environment extending well beyond the spatiotemporal scales of the lower-tropospheric cyclonic circulation of the TC.

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Benjamin A. Schenkel and Robert E. Hart

Abstract

The present study examines the tropospheric thermodynamic anomalies induced by western North Pacific tropical cyclone (TC) passage using storm-relative composites. Negative moist static energy (MSE) anomalies containing embedded westward-propagating anomalies generally occur only following larger TCs for two months following TC passage in a region extending from the domain center to ~3000 km to its west. Larger TCs force negative MSE anomalies likely because of feedbacks from stronger, broader TC-induced negative sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies and the excitation of TC-induced Rossby waves to the southeast of the TC. The negative MSE anomalies are composed of lower- and midtropospheric negative latent energy anomalies with smaller contributions from boundary layer and upper-tropospheric negative sensible heat anomalies. The lower- and midtropospheric negative MSE anomalies are forced by the TC, whereas the upper-tropospheric negative MSE anomalies are forced by the Madden–Julian oscillation. Vertically integrated MSE budgets at the domain center reveal negative MSE tendencies that are primarily forced by surface latent heat flux anomalies resulting from the TC-induced negative SST anomalies. Smaller negative MSE tendencies are due to 1) zonal and meridional advection of MSE anomalies by the Rossby waves and 2) enhanced top-of-the-atmosphere longwave radiative flux anomalies potentially associated with a reduction in the greenhouse gas effect of water vapor. The budget analysis in the west region is generally similar except that all terms are comparable in magnitude and relatively weaker. These results conservatively suggest that larger TCs can anomalously cool and dry their synoptic-scale environment for ~40 days following TC passage.

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Benjamin A. Schenkel and Robert E. Hart

Abstract

The following study examines the position and intensity differences of tropical cyclones (TCs) among the Best-Track and five atmospheric reanalysis datasets to evaluate the degree to which reanalyses are appropriate for studying TCs. While significant differences are found in both reanalysis TC intensity and position, the representation of TC intensity within reanalyses is found to be most problematic owing to its underestimation beyond what can be attributed solely to the coarse grid resolution. Moreover, the mean life cycle of normalized TC intensity within reanalyses reveals an underestimation of both prepeak intensification rates as well as a delay in peak intensity relative to the Best-Track. These discrepancies between Best-Track and reanalysis TC intensity and position can further be described through correlations with such parameters as Best-Track TC age, Best-Track TC intensity, Best-Track TC location, and the extended Best-Track TC size. Specifically, TC position differences within the 40-yr European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Re-Analysis (ERA-40), ECMWF Interim Re-Analysis (ERA-I), and Modern Era Retrospective-Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) exhibit statistically significant correlations (0.27 ≤ R ≤ 0.38) with the proximity of TCs to observation dense areas in the North Atlantic (NATL) and western North Pacific (WPAC). Reanalysis TC intensity is found to be most strongly correlated with Best-Track TC size (0.53 ≤ R ≤ 0.70 for maximum 10-m wind speed; −0.71 ≤ R ≤ −0.53 for minimum mean sea level pressure) while exhibiting smaller, yet significant, correlations with Best-Track TC age, Best-Track TC intensity, and Best-Track TC latitude. Of the three basins examined, the eastern North Pacific (EPAC) has the largest reanalysis TC position differences and weakest intensities possibly due to a relative dearth of observations, the strong nearby terrain gradient, and the movement of TCs away from the most observation dense portion of the basin over time. The smaller mean Best-Track size and shorter mean lifespan of Best-Track EPAC TCs may also yield weaker reanalysis TC intensities. Of the five reanalyses, the smaller position differences and stronger intensities found in the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) and Japanese 25-year Reanalysis (JRA-25) are attributed to the use of vortex relocation and TC wind profile retrievals, respectively. The discrepancies in TC position between the Best-Track and reanalyses combined with the muted magnitude of TC intensity and its partially nonphysical life cycle within reanalyses suggests that caution should be exercised when utilizing these datasets for studies that rely either on TC intensity (raw or normalized) or track. Finally, several cases of nonphysical TC structure also argue that further work is needed to improve TC representation while implying that studies focusing solely on TC intensity and track do not necessarily extend to other aspects of TC representation.

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Benjamin A. Schenkel, Roger Edwards, and Michael Coniglio

Abstract

The cyclone-relative location and variability in the number of tornadoes among tropical cyclones (TCs) are not completely understood. A key understudied factor that may improve our understanding is ambient (i.e., synoptic-scale) deep-tropospheric (i.e., 850–200-hPa) vertical wind shear (VWS), which impacts both the symmetry and strength of deep convection in TCs. This study conducts a climatological analysis of VWS impacts upon tornadoes in TCs from 1995 to 2018, using observed TC and tornado data together with radiosondes. TC tornadoes were classified by objectively defined VWS categories, derived from reanalyses, to quantify the sensitivity of tornado frequency, location, and their environments to VWS. The analysis shows that stronger VWS is associated with enhanced rates of tornado production—especially more damaging ones. Tornadoes also become localized to the downshear half of the TC as VWS strengthens, with tornado location in strongly sheared TCs transitioning from the downshear-left quadrant in the TC inner core to the downshear-right quadrant in the TC outer region. Analysis of radiosondes shows that the downshear-right quadrant in strongly sheared TCs is most frequently associated with sufficiently strong near-surface speed shear and veering aloft, and lower-tropospheric thermodynamic instability for tornadoes. These supportive kinematic environments may be due to the constructive superposition of the ambient and TC winds, and the VWS-induced downshear enhancement of the TC circulation among other factors. Together, this work provides a basis for improving forecasts of TC tornado frequency and location.

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Benjamin A. Schenkel, Michael Coniglio, and Roger Edwards

Abstract

This work investigates how the relationship between tropical cyclone (TC) tornadoes and ambient (i.e., synoptic-scale) deep-tropospheric (i.e., 850–200-hPa) vertical wind shear (VWS) varies between coastal and inland environments. Observed U.S. TC tornado track data are used to study tornado frequency and location, while dropsonde and radiosonde data are used to analyze convective-scale environments. To study the variability in the TC tornado-VWS relationship, these data are categorized by both: 1) their distance from the coast and 2) reanalysis-derived VWS magnitude. The analysis shows that TCs produce coastal tornadoes regardless of VWS magnitude primarily in their downshear sector, with tornadoes most frequently occurring in strongly sheared cases. Inland tornadoes, including the most damaging cases, primarily occur in strongly sheared TCs within the outer radii of the downshear right quadrant. Consistent with these patterns, drop-sondes and coastal radiosondes show that the downshear right quadrant of strongly sheared TCs has the most favorable combination of enhanced lower-tropospheric near-surface speed shear and veering, and reduced lower-tropospheric thermodynamic stability for tornadic supercells. Despite the weaker intensity further inland, these kinematic conditions are even more favorable in inland environments within the downshear right quadrant of strongly sheared TCs, due to the strengthened veering of the ambient winds and the lack of changes in the TC outer tangential wind strength. The constructive superposition of the ambient and TC winds may be particularly important to inland tornado occurrence. Together, these results will allow forecasters to anticipate how the frequency and location of tornadoes and, more broadly, convection may change as TCs move inland.

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Kimberly A. Hoogewind, Daniel R. Chavas, Benjamin A. Schenkel, and Morgan E O’Neill

Abstract

Globally, on the order of 100 tropical cyclones (TCs) occur annually, yet the processes that control this number remain unknown. Here we test a simple hypothesis that this number is limited by the geography of thermodynamic environments favorable for TC formation and maintenance. First, climatologies of TC potential intensity and environmental ventilation are created from reanalyses and are used in conjunction with historical TC data to define the spatiotemporal geography of favorable environments. Based on a range of predefined separation distances, the geographic domain of environmental favorability is populated with randomly placed TCs assuming a fixed minimum separation distance to achieve a maximum daily packing density of storms. Inclusion of a fixed storm duration yields an annual “maximum potential genesis” (MPG) rate, which is found to be an order of magnitude larger than the observed rate on Earth. The mean daily packing density captures the seasonal cycle reasonably well for both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, though it substantially overestimates TC counts outside of each hemisphere’s active seasons. Interannual variability in MPG is relatively small and is poorly correlated with annual storm count globally and across basins, though modest positive correlations are found in the North Atlantic and east Pacific basins. Overall, the spatiotemporal distribution of favorable environmental conditions appears to strongly modulate the seasonal cycle of TCs, which certainly strongly influences the TC climatology, though it does not explicitly constrain the global annual TC count. Our methodology provides the first estimate of an upper bound for annual TC frequency and outlines a framework for assessing how local and large-scale factors may act to limit global TC count below the maximum potential values found here.

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Benjamin A. Schenkel, Ning Lin, Daniel Chavas, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Michael Oppenheimer, and Alan Brammer

Abstract

The present study examines the lifetime evolution of outer tropical cyclone (TC) size and structure in the North Atlantic (NA) and western North Pacific (WNP). The metric for outer TC size is the radius at which the azimuthal-mean 10-m azimuthal wind equals 8 m s−1 (r 8) derived from the NCEP Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) and GFDL High-Resolution Forecast-Oriented Low Ocean Resolution model (HiFLOR). Radial profiles of the azimuthal-mean 10-m azimuthal wind are also analyzed to demonstrate that the results are robust across a broad range of wind radii. The analysis shows that most TCs in both basins are characterized by 1) minimum lifetime r 8 at genesis, 2) subsequent substantial increases in r 8 as the TC wind field expands, 3) peak r 8 values occurring near or after the midpoint of the TC lifetime, and 4) nontrivial decreases in r 8 and outer winds during the latter part of the TC lifetime. Compared to the NA, WNP TCs are systematically larger up until the end of their lifetime, exhibit r 8 growth and decay rates that are larger in magnitude, and are characterized by an earlier onset of lifetime maximum r 8 near their lifetime midpoint. In both basins, the TCs exhibiting the largest r 8 increases are the longest lived, especially those that traverse the longest distances (i.e., recurving TCs). Finally, analysis of TCs undergoing extratropical transition (ET) shows that NA TCs exhibit negligible changes in r 8 during ET, while WNP ET cases either show r 8 decreases (CFSR) or negligible changes in r 8 (HiFLOR).

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Benjamin A. Schenkel, Ning Lin, Daniel Chavas, Michael Oppenheimer, and Alan Brammer

Abstract

The present study examines the fidelity of outer tropical cyclone (TC) size and wind field structure in four atmospheric reanalysis datasets to evaluate whether reanalyses can be used to derive a long-term TC size dataset. Specifically, the precision and accuracy of reanalysis TC size for the North Atlantic (NA) and western North Pacific (WNP) basins are analyzed through comparison with a recently developed QuikSCAT TC size dataset (2000–09). Both outer TC size and structure in reanalyses closely match QuikSCAT data as revealed by strong correlations, similar standard deviations, and generally small biases. Of the TC size metrics examined, the radii of 6–8 m s−1 winds in the NA and radii of 6–10 m s−1 winds in the WNP are generally most comparable to QuikSCAT data. Compared to WNP TCs, NA TC size and structure are represented with greater fidelity. Among the four reanalyses examined, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction Climate Forecast System Reanalysis and the Japan Meteorological Agency Japanese 55-year Reanalysis represent TC size and structure with the greatest fidelity for both basins. Differences between reanalysis and QuikSCAT TC size increase with increasing QuikSCAT TC size in both basins and with decreasing TC latitude in the WNP. Finally, comparison of the distribution of reanalysis TC size during the satellite era with the distribution of QuikSCAT TC size suggests that reanalysis TC size is represented with reasonable fidelity throughout the satellite era and, thus, may be useful for constructing a multidecadal TC size dataset.

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