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Liguang Wu and Bin Wang

Abstract

A new approach is proposed to assess the possible impacts of the global climate change on tropical cyclone (TC) tracks in the western North Pacific (WNP) basin. The idea is based on the premise that the future change of TC track characteristics is primarily determined by changes in large-scale environmental steering flows and in formation locations.

It is demonstrated that the main characteristics of the current climatology of TC tracks can be derived from the climatological mean velocity field of TC motion by using a trajectory model. The climatological mean velocity of TC motion, composed of the large-scale steering and beta drift, is determined on each grid of the basin. The mean large-scale steering flow is computed from the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis for the current climate state. The mean beta drift is estimated from the best-track data by removing the steering flow. The derived mean beta drift agrees well with the results of previous observational and numerical studies in terms of its direction and magnitude.

The approach is applied to assessing the potential impacts of global warming on TC tracks in the WNP. The possible changes in the large-scale steering flows are taken from the output wind fields of two Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) global warming experiments and possible changes in the TC formation locations are considered by shifting the formation locations as a whole. The GFDL experiments suggested that the changes in the future large-scale steering flows are dominated by the easterly anomalies in the Tropics and westerly anomalies in the midlatitudes with the enhanced northward component during the period of 2030–59. Based on the assessments using two different ways to reduce climate model biases, the prevailing TC tracks shift slightly southwestward during the period of 2000–29, but northeastward during the period of 2030–59. More TCs will take a recurving track and move northeastward during the period of 2030–59. The El Niño–like climate change predicted in many climate models can significantly enhance the track changes if the TC formation locations in the WNP shift eastward as a whole.

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Chao Wang and Liguang Wu

Abstract

The strong westerly shear to the south flank of the tropical upper-tropospheric trough (TUTT) limits the eastward extension of tropical cyclone (TC) formation over the western North Pacific (WNP) and thus the zonal shift of the TUTT in warming scenarios has an important implication for the mean formation location of TCs. The impact of global warming on the zonal shift of the TUTT is investigated by using output from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) of 36 climate models in this study. It is found that considerable spread exists in the zonal position, orientation, and intensity of the simulated-climatologic TUTT in the historical runs, which is forced by observed conditions such as changes in atmospheric composition, solar forcing, and aerosols. The large spread is closely related to the diversity in the simulated SST biases over the North Pacific. Based on the 15 models with relatively high skill in their historical runs, the near-term (2016–35) projection shows no significant change of the TUTT longitude, while the TUTT experiences an eastward shift of 1.9° and 3.2° longitude in the representative concentration pathway (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5 scenarios in the long-term (2081–2100) projection with considerable intermodel variability. Further examination indicates that the projected changes in the zonal location of the TUTT are also associated with the projected relative SST anomalies over the North Pacific. A stronger (weaker) relative SST warming over the North Pacific favors an eastward (westward) shift of the TUTT, suggesting that the spatial pattern of the future SST change is an important factor for the zonal shift of the mean formation location of TCs.

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Liguang Wu and Bin Wang

Abstract

The influence of convective heating on movement and vertical coupling of tropical cyclones (TCs) is investigated using a hurricane model with different environmental flows. The authors identify two processes by which convective heating may affect TC motion. One is the advection of symmetric potential vorticity (PV) by heating-induced asymmetric flow. The other is the direct generation of a positive PV tendency by asymmetric heating, which acts to shift a TC to the region of maximum downward gradient of asymmetric heating. A steering level exists that is located at the level where the direct influence of asymmetric heating vanishes, normally in the lower troposphere. At that level, a TC moves with the asymmetric flow averaged within a radius of 200 km, because the influence of asymmetric flows on TC motion is weighted by the horizontal PV gradient that is primarily confined within the TC core. Although the vertical shear in the asymmetric flow (including environmental and heating-induced flows) could tilt the vortex, the influence of asymmetric heating tends to offset the vertical tilt caused by the vertical shear through a fast adjustment between the asymmetric wind and diabatic heating. Therefore, diabatic heating enhances the vertical coupling.

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Liguang Wu and Bin Wang

Abstract

The vertical coupling and movement of an adiabatic baroclinic tropical cyclone (TC) are investigated through two numerical experiments in which the TC is affected by either a vertical environmental shear or a differential beta drift. In both cases, the initial response of the symmetric vortex is to tilt in the vertical. In response to the vertical tilt, a three-dimensional asymmetric circulation with a typical radius of 100 km develops within the TC core region. In addition, the wavenumber-one potential vorticity (PV) anomalies develop with positive anomalies downtilt (uptilt) above (below) the maximum PV level in order to maintain a balanced state between the thermal and dynamical fields. On a beta plane, in contrast to the beta gyres, the mesoscale asymmetric circulation is a pair of counterrotating inner gyres centered at the radius of maximum wind. As a result, the resulting three-dimensional mesoscale asymmetric circulation, not the penetration flow, plays an important role in the vertical coupling of adiabatic baroclinic vortices. In both cases, the TC motion is not simply due to the advection of the symmetric PV component by the asymmetric (ventilation) flow. The horizontal advection of the asymmetric PV anomalies by the symmetric cyclonic flow and the vertical PV advection associated with the asymmetric vertical motion also considerably contribute to the TC motion. The latter two processes also play a critical role in the vertical coupling of the baroclinic TC due to the presence of the vertical PV gradient.

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Huijun Zong and Liguang Wu

Abstract

Tropical cyclones (TCs) always develop from synoptic-scale disturbances. While early studies suggested that the presence of synoptic-scale disturbances may enhance large-scale conditions for TC formation, recent studies argued that TC-precursor disturbances can establish a rotation-dominant area, which can play a crucial role in organizing convective activity and converting convective heating to rotational energy for storm-scale intensification. To demonstrate the synoptic-scale influence of TC-precursor disturbances, 91 TC formation events within the monsoon trough over the western North Pacific during 2000–10 were examined by separating TC-precursor disturbances from the low-frequency background. The composite analysis shows that the synoptic disturbances indeed enhance the mid- and low-level relative vorticity and convergence, but contribute little to reducing vertical wind shear.

The dynamic composite that is conducted with respect to disturbance centers indicates that TC-precursor disturbances within the monsoon trough establish a rotation-dominant region with a radius of less than 550 km. The cyclonic rotation increases with time 72 h prior to TC formation and nearly all air particles keep recirculating in the core area with a radius of about 220 km. Analysis of a specific case suggests that vorticity increase occurs through the merger of mesoscale convective systems in the rotation-dominant area. The enhancing rotation in the core area may efficiently convert diabatic heating to kinetic energy for TC formation. Thus, it is suggested that the important role of TC-precursor disturbances in TC formation is the establishment of a limited, rotation-dominant area.

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Liguang Wu and Bin Wang

Abstract

The recently reported increase in the proportion of intense hurricanes is considerably larger than those projected by the maximum potential intensity (MPI) theory and the results of numerical simulation. To reconcile this discrepancy, the authors examined the best-track datasets for the North Atlantic (NA), western North Pacific (WNP), and eastern North Pacific (ENP) basins. It was found that the changes in the tropical cyclone formation locations and prevailing tracks may have contributed to the changes in the proportion of the intense hurricanes over the past 30 yr. The authors suggest that the changes in the formation locations and prevailing tracks have a profound impact on the basinwide tropical cyclone intensity. Thus, how the atmospheric circulation in the tropical cyclone basins responds to the global warming may be a critical factor in understanding the impacts of global warming on tropical cyclone intensity.

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Ruifang Wang and Liguang Wu

Abstract

The annual mean latitude at which tropical cyclones (TCs) reach their lifetime maximum intensity (LMI) over the western North Pacific Ocean basin has shifted northward since the early 1980s, and it is suggested that the shift is due to the northward migration of the mean TC formation location. In this study, the TC intensity is simulated with an intensity model to assess the historical records of TC intensity. During the period 1980–2015, the simulated poleward trend in the mean latitude of LMI is 0.44° (10 yr)−1, which agrees well with the one [0.48° (10 yr)−1] derived from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) dataset. This suggests that the observed poleward trend in the mean latitude of LMI is physically consistent with changes in the large-scale ocean–atmosphere environment and TC track. This study also demonstrates that the temporal change in the environmental parameters (sea surface temperature, outflow temperature, vertical wind shear, and ocean mixed layer depth) has little influence on the observed shift of the mean LMI latitude. The poleward migration of the mean LMI latitude is mainly due to the TC track shift, which results primarily from the change in the large-scale steering flow.

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Jia Liang and Liguang Wu

Abstract

Tropical cyclones (TCs) in the eastern semicircle of large-scale monsoon gyres (MGs) were observed to take either a northward (sudden northward and northward without a sharp turn) or a westward TC turn, but only the northward turn was previously simulated in a barotropic model. To understand what controls TC track types in MGs, idealized numerical experiments are performed using the full-physics Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. These experiments indicate that TCs initially located in the eastern semicircle of MGs can generally take three types of tracks: a sudden northward track, a westward track, and a northward track without a sharp turn. The track types depend upon the TC movement relative to the MG center.

In agreement with barotropic simulations, the WRF simulation confirms that approaching and being collocated with the MG center is crucial to the occurrence of sudden northward TC track changes and that sudden northward track changes can be generally accounted for by changes in the steering flow. TCs that take westward tracks and northward tracks without a sharp turn do not experience such a coalescence process. Westward TCs move faster than MGs and are then located to the west of the MG center, while TCs move more slowly than MGs and then take a northward track without a sharp turn. This study reveals that the specific TC track in the eastern semicircle of an MG is sensitive to the initial wind profiles of both MGs and TCs, suggesting that improvement in the observation of TC and MG structures is very important for predicting TC track types in MGs.

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Xiaofang Feng and Liguang Wu

Abstract

The tropospheric warming in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) midlatitudes has been an important factor in regulating weather and climate since the twentieth century. Apart from anthropogenic forcing leading to the midlatitude warming, this study investigates the possible contribution of internal variability to Asian midlatitude warming and its role in East Asian circulation changes in boreal summer, using four reanalysis datasets in the past century and a set of 1800-yr preindustrial control simulations of the Community Earth System Model version 1 large ensemble (CESM-LE). The surface and tropospheric warming in the Asian midlatitudes is associated with a strong upper-level geopotential height rise north of the Tibetan Plateau (TP). Linear trends of 200-hPa geopotential height (Z200) confirm a dipole of an anomalous high north of the TP and an anomalous low over the Iranian Plateau in 1958–2017. The leading internal circulation mode bears a striking resemblance to the Z200 trend in the past 60 and 111 years, indicating that the long-term trend may be partially of internal origin. The Asian midlatitude warming is also found in preindustrial simulations of CESM-LE, further suggesting that internal variability explains at least part of the temperature change in the Asian midlatitudes, which is in a chain of wave trains along the NH midlatitudes. The Asian warming decreases the meridional gradient of geopotential height, resulting in the weakening of westerly winds over the TP and the TP thermal forcing. Thus, it is essential to consider the role of internal variability in shaping East Asian surface temperature and East Asian summer monsoon changes in the past decades.

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Liguang Wu and Haikun Zhao

Abstract

The study of the impact of global warming on tropical cyclone (TC) intensity is subject to uncertainty in historical datasets, especially in the western North Pacific (WNP) basin, where conflicting results have been found with the TC datasets archived in different organizations. In this study the basinwide TC intensity in the WNP basin is derived dynamically with a TC intensity model, based on the track data from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), the Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC) of Tokyo, and the Shanghai Typhoon Institute (STI) of the China Meteorological Administration. The dynamically derived TC intensity is compared to the three datasets and used to investigate trends in TC intensity. The associated contributions of changes in SST, vertical wind shear, and prevailing tracks are also examined. The evolution of the basinwide TC intensity in the JTWC best-track dataset can be generally reproduced over the period 1975–2007. Dynamically derived data based on the JTWC, RSMC, and STI track datasets all show an increasing trend in the peak intensity and frequency of intense typhoons, mainly because of the combined effect of changes in SST and vertical wind shear. This study suggests that the increasing intensity trend in the JTWC dataset is real, but that it may be overestimated. In contrast, the TC intensity trends in the RSMC and STI intensity datasets are dynamically inconsistent. Numerical simulations also suggest that the frequency of intense typhoons is more sensitive to changes in SST and vertical wind shear than the peak and average intensities defined in previous studies.

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