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Jian-Feng Gu, Zhe-Min Tan, and Xin Qiu

Abstract

The coupling of vortex tilt and convection, and their effects on the intensification variability of tropical cyclones (TCs) in directional shear flows, is investigated in this study. The height-dependent vortex tilt controls TC structural differences in clockwise (CW) and counterclockwise (CC) hodographs during their initial stage of development. Moist convection may enhance the coupling between displaced vortices at different levels and thus reduce the vortex tilt amplitude and enhance precession of the overall vortex tilt during the early stage of development. However, differences in the overall vortex tilt between CW and CC hodographs are further amplified by a feedback from convective heating and therefore result in much higher intensification rates for TCs in CW hodographs than those in CC hodographs. In CW hodographs, convection organization in the left-of-shear region is favored because the low-level vortex tilt is ahead of the overall vortex tilt and the TC moves to the left side of the deep-layer shear. This results in a more humid midtroposphere and stronger surface heat flux on the left side (azimuthally downwind) of the overall vortex tilt, thus providing a positive feedback and supporting continuous precession of the vortex tilt into the upshear-left region. In CC hodographs, convection tends to organize on the right side (azimuthally upwind) of the overall vortex tilt because the low-level vortex tilt is behind the overall vortex tilt and the TC moves to the right side of the deep-layer shear. In addition, convection organizes radially outward near the downshear-right region, which weakens convection within the inner region. These configurations lead to a drier midtroposphere and weaker surface heat flux in the downwind region of the overall vortex tilt and also a broader potential vorticity skirt. As a result, a negative feedback is established that prevents continuous precession of the overall vortex tilt.

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Jian-Feng Gu, Zhe-Min Tan, and Xin Qiu

Abstract

Recent studies have demonstrated the importance of moist dynamics on the intensification variability of tropical cyclones (TCs) in directional shear flows. Here, we propose that dry dynamics can account for many aspects of the structure change of TCs in moist simulations. The change of vortex tilt with height and time essentially determines the kinematic and thermodynamic structure of TCs experiencing directional shear flows, depending on how the environmental flow rotates with height, that is, in a clockwise (CW) or counterclockwise (CC) fashion. The vortex tilt precesses faster and is closer to the left-of-shear (with respect to the deep-layer shear) region, with a smaller magnitude at equilibrium in CW hodographs than in CC hodographs. The low-level vortex tilt and accordingly more low-level upward motions are ahead of the overall vortex tilt in CW hodographs but are behind the overall vortex tilt in CC hodographs. Such a configuration of vortex tilt in CW hodographs is potentially favorable for the continuous precession of convection into the upshear region but in CC hodographs it is unfavorable. Most of the upward motions within a TC undergoing CW shear are concentrated in the downshear-left region, whereas those in the CC shear are located in the downshear-right region. Moreover, the upward (downward) motions are in phase with positive (negative) local helicity in both CW and CC hodographs. Here, we present an alternative mechanism that is associated with balanced dynamics in response to vortex tilt to explain the coincidence and also the distribution variability of vertical motions, as well as local helicity in directional shear flows. The balanced dynamics could explain the overlap of positive helicity and convection in both moist simulations and observations.

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Jian-Feng Gu, Zhe-Min Tan, and Xin Qiu

Abstract

This study investigates the quadrant-by-quadrant evolution of the low-level tangential wind near the eyewall of an idealized simulated mature tropical cyclone embedded in a unidirectional shear flow. It is found that the quadrant-averaged tangential wind in the right-of-shear quadrants weakens continuously, while that in the left-of-shear quadrants experiences a two-stage evolution: a quasi-steady stage followed by a weakening stage after the imposing of vertical wind shear. This leads to a larger weakening rate in the right-of-shear and a stronger jet in the left-of-shear quadrants. The budget analysis shows that the quadrant-dependent evolution of tangential wind is controlled through the balance between the generalized Coriolis force (GCF; i.e., the radial advection of absolute angular momentum) and the advection terms. The steady decreasing of the GCF is primarily responsible for the continuous weakening of jet strength in the right-of-shear quadrants. For the left-of-shear quadrants, the quasi-steady stage is due to the opposite contributions by the enhanced GCF and negative tendency of advections cancelling out each other. The later weakening stage is the result of both the decreased GCF and the negative tangential advection. The combination of storm-relative flows at vortex scale and the convection strength both within and outside the eyewall determines the evolution of boundary layer inflow asymmetries, which in turn results in the change of GCF, leading to the quadrant-dependent evolution of low-level jet strength and thus the overall storm intensity change.

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Jian-Feng Gu, Zhe-Min Tan, and Xin Qiu

Abstract

A suite of idealized simulations of tropical cyclones (TCs) with weak to strong vertical wind shear (VWS) imposed during the mature stage was employed to examine the effects of VWS on the inner-core thermodynamics and intensity change of TCs using a three-dimensional full-physics numerical model as well as a budget analysis of moist entropy. For sheared TCs with shear-induced convective asymmetries, VWS tends to reduce moist entropy within the midlevel eyewall and the boundary layer (BL) but supply moist entropy outside the eyewall above the BL. Such changes in moist entropy reduce the radial gradient of moist entropy across the eyewall, resulting in weakening of the TC. Budget analysis showed that the intense eddy fluxes are mainly responsible for the reduction and/or increase in entropy in the sheared TCs. The entropy reduction within the midlevel eyewall is a result of both the radial eddy flux and the vertical eddy flux. These eddy fluxes are effective at introducing low-entropy air into the midlevel eyewall. Accompanying the flushing of midlevel low-entropy air into the BL, there is an increase in moist entropy outside the eyewall above the BL due to the upward transport of moisture from the BL by shear-induced convection. This represents a new potential pathway to further restrain the radial gradient of moist entropy across the eyewall and hence TC intensity in the sheared environmental flow.

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Hao-Yan Liu, Yuqing Wang, and Jian-Feng Gu

Abstract

This study investigates the intensity change of binary tropical cyclones (TCs) in idealized cloud-resolving simulations. Four simulations of binary interaction between two initially identical mature TCs of about 70 ms−1 with initial separation distance varying from 480 to 840 km are conducted in a quiescent f-plane environment. Results show that two identical TCs finally merge if their initial separation distance is within 600 km. The binary TCs presents two weakening stages (stages 1 and 3) with a quasi-steady evolution (stage 2) in between. Such intensity change of one TC is correlated with the upper-layer vertical wind shear (VWS) associated with the upper-level anticyclone (ULA) of the other TC. The potential temperature budget shows that eddy radial advection of potential temperature induced by large upper-layer VWS contributes to the weakening of the upper-level warm core and thereby the weakening of binary TCs in stage 1. In stage 2, the upper-layer VWS first weakens and then re-strengthens with relatively weak magnitude, leading to a quasi-steady intensity evolution. In stage 3, due to the increasing upper-layer VWS, the non-merging binary TCs weaken again until their separation distance exceeds the local Rossby radius of deformation of the ULA (about 1600 km), which can serve as a dynamical critical distance within which direct interaction can occur between two TCs. In the merging cases, the binary TCs weaken prior to merging because highly asymmetric structure develops as a result of strong horizontal deformation of the inner core. However, the merged system intensifies shortly after merging.

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Jian-Feng Gu, Robert Stephen Plant, Christopher E. Holloway, Todd R. Jones, Alison Stirling, Peter A. Clark, Steven J. Woolnough, and Thomas L. Webb

Abstract

In this study, bulk mass flux formulations for turbulent fluxes are evaluated for shallow and deep convection using large-eddy simulation data. The bulk mass flux approximation neglects two sources of variability: the interobject variability due to differences between the average properties of different cloud objects, and the intraobject variability due to perturbations within each cloud object. Using a simple cloud–environment decomposition, the interobject and intraobject contributions to the heat flux are comparable in magnitude with that from the bulk mass flux approximation, but do not share a similar vertical distribution, and so cannot be parameterized with a rescaling method. A downgradient assumption is also not appropriate to parameterize the neglected flux contributions because a nonnegligible part is associated with nonlocal buoyant structures. A spectral analysis further suggests the presence of fine structures within the clouds. These points motivate investigations in which the vertical transports are decomposed based on the distribution of vertical velocity. As a result, a “core-cloak” conceptual model is proposed to improve the representation of total vertical fluxes, composed of a strong and a weak draft for both the updrafts and downdrafts. It is shown that the core-cloak representation can well capture the magnitude and vertical distribution of heat and moisture fluxes for both shallow and deep convection.

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