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Xiaoyu Chen and Liguang Wu

Abstract

A few recent numerical studies investigated the influence of a continent, which is much larger in size than islands, on the track of a landfalling tropical cyclone. It has been found that land surface roughness and temperature tend to make a tropical cyclone move toward the continent. In this study, the effect of the elevated terrain on the western part of mainland China on landfall tracks is examined through idealized numerical experiments, in which an initially axisymmetric vortex is embedded into a monsoon trough and takes a landfall track across China’s mainland. It is found that the effect of the elevated terrain on the western part of mainland China can enhance the southerly environmental flows in the low and midtroposphere, leading to an additional landward component of tropical cyclone motion, suggesting that forecasts for tropical cyclone tracks over land should take into consideration the change in thermal condition over the continent. The study suggests that the increased duration of tropical cyclone overland tracks observed in China may be associated with the reduction of the thermal forcing over the Tibetan Plateau.

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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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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 Jingjing Duan

Abstract

Previous studies suggest that the low-frequency background makes an important contribution to the predictability of tropical cyclone (TC) activity on the intraseasonal time scale by providing large-scale conditions favorable for TC formation. Extended numerical experiments were conducted to demonstrate additional low-frequency influence on TC activity, which results from the development of a synoptic-scale wave train. The cyclonic circulation of the wave train provides low-level synoptic-scale disturbances for TC formation.

The observed TC formation events over the western North Pacific during 14 August–10 September 2004 were first successfully simulated with the initial and lateral conditions derived from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Final (FNL) Operational Global Analysis. Then the 27-day extended experiment was repeated only with the initial and lateral boundary conditions derived from the FNL low-frequency (longer than 20 days) background. It is found that the development of the synoptic-scale wave train can be well simulated with TCs forming in the cyclonic circulations of the wave train although the wavelength of the simulated wave train is substantially reduced in the absence of higher-frequency influences with periods shorter than 20 days. Sensitivity experiments indicate that the development of wave trains is sensitive to the initial monsoon trough structure. This study suggests that the synoptic-scale wave train can develop in situ and does not need upstream precursors.

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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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Chao Wang and Liguang Wu

Abstract

The east–west migration of the tropical upper-tropospheric trough (TUTT) on the interannual time scale and its influence on tropical cyclone (TC) formation over the western North Pacific (WNP) is investigated in this study. Climatologically, the TUTT can be identified from 100 to 400 hPa with a relative vorticity maximum between 150 and 200 hPa. In addition to the strong westerly vertical wind shear in the south flank of the TUTT, this study shows that the cold-core system is associated with low relative humidity and subsidence to the east of the trough axis. As a result, the TC formation is enhanced (suppressed) in the eastern portion of the WNP when the TUTT shifts eastward (westward) on the interannual time scale. The interannual TUTT shift is closely associated with the SST anomalies in the central and eastern tropical Pacific or ENSO phases. The warm (cold) phase of ENSO corresponds to the eastward (westward) shift of the TUTT. The physical factors found to be responsible for the influence of ENSO on TC formation can be associated with the east–west shift of the TUTT. It is shown that the interannual variations of TC formation in the eastern part of the WNP basin are closely associated with the east–west shift of the TUTT due to the associated environmental conditions that are generally not favorable for TC formation.

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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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Liguang Wu and Chao Wang

Abstract

Previous studies reported that the summer western Pacific subtropical high (WPSH) has extended westward since the late 1970s and the change has affected summer rainfall over China and tropical cyclone prevailing tracks in the western North Pacific. The authors show that the 500-hPa geopotential height in the midlatitudes of the Northern Hemisphere has trended upward in the warming climate and the westward extension of the WPSH quantified with the 500-hPa geopotential height is mainly a manifestation of the global rising trend. That is, the summer 500-hPa WPSH has not remarkably extended westward since the late 1970s when the global trend is removed. It is suggested that the index that indicates the west–east shift of the summer 500-hPa WPSH should be redefined and that further investigation is needed to understand the observed climate change in the summer rainfall over China and tropical cyclone prevailing tracks in the western North Pacific.

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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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