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Konstantinos Menelaou, M. K. Yau, and Tsz-Kin Lai

Abstract

It is known that concentric eyewalls can influence tropical cyclone (TC) intensity. However, they can also influence TC track. Observations indicate that TCs with concentric eyewalls are often accompanied by wobbling of the inner eyewall, a motion that gives rise to cycloidal tracks. Currently, there is no general consensus of what might constitute the dominant triggering mechanism of these wobbles. In this paper we revisit the fundamentals. The control case constitutes a TC with symmetric concentric eyewalls embedded in a quiescent environment. Two sets of experiments are conducted: one using a two-dimensional nondivergent nonlinear model and the other using a three-dimensional nonlinear model. It is found that when the system is two-dimensional, no wobbling of the inner eyewall is triggered. On the other hand, when the third dimension is introduced, an amplifying wobble is evident. This result contradicts the previous suggestion that wobbles occur only in asymmetric concentric eyewalls. It also contradicts the suggestion that environmental wind shear can be the main trigger. Examination of the dynamics along with complementary linear eigenmode analysis revealed the triggering mechanism to be the excitation of a three-dimensional exponentially growing azimuthal wavenumber-1 instability. This instability is induced by the coupling of two baroclinic vortex Rossby waves across the moat region. Additional sensitivity analyses involving reasonable modifications to vortex shape parameters, perturbation vertical length scale, and Rossby number reveal that this instability can be systematically the most excited. The growth rates are shown to peak for perturbations characterized by realistic vertical length scales, suggesting that this mechanism can be potentially relevant to actual TCs.

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Tsz-Kin Lai, Konstantinos Menelaou, and M. K. Yau

Abstract

Radar imagery of some double-eyewall tropical cyclones shows that the inner eyewalls become elliptical prior to their dissipation. These elliptical features indicate that the barotropic instability (BI) across the moat (aka, type-2 BI) may play a role in the process. To investigate the mechanism for dissipation, a WRF simulation of Hurricane Wilma (2005) is performed. The results reveal an elliptical elongation of the inner eyewall and a change in the structure of the radial flow from wavenumber (WN) 1 to WN 2 at the lower levels. A linear stability analysis as well as idealized nonlinear experiments using a nondivergent barotropic vorticity model initialized with the vorticity fields before the change in the dominant wavenumber of the radial flow are presented with the results supporting the presence of a type-2 BI at the lower levels. The accompanying WN-2 radial flow is also found to dilute the vorticity within the inner eyewall and the eye. However, this dilution is not seen at higher levels as the type-2 BI becomes weak and short lived at the middle levels and reaches its weakest strength at the upper levels. This phenomenon is traced to the fact that a higher growth rate comes with a narrower moat for type-2 BI. As the outward slope of the outer eyewall is larger than that of the inner eyewall, the moat width increases with height so that the growth rate decreases with height. The results presented here thus highlight the potential role played by the barotropic instability across the moat in inner eyewall dissipation.

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Tsz-Kin Lai, Eric A. Hendricks, M. K. Yau, and Konstantinos Menelaou

Abstract

Intense tropical cyclones (TCs) often experience secondary eyewall formations and the ensuing eyewall replacement cycles. Better understanding of the underlying dynamics is crucial to make improvements to the TC intensity and structure forecasting. Radar imagery of some double-eyewall TCs and a real-case simulation study indicated that the barotropic instability (BI) across the moat (a.k.a. type-2 BI) may play a role in inner eyewall decay. A three-dimensional numerical study accompanying this paper pointed out that type-2 BI is able to withdraw the inner eyewall absolute angular momentum (AAM) and increase the outer eyewall AAM through the eddy radial transport of eddy AAM. This paper explores the reason why the eddy radial transport of eddy AAM is intrinsically non-zero. Linear and nonlinear shallow water experiments are performed and they produce expected evolutions under type-2 BI. It will be shown that only nonlinear experiments have changes in AAM over the inner and outer eyewalls, and the changes solely originate from the eddy radial transport of eddy AAM. This result highlights the importance of nonlinearity of type-2 BI. Based on the distribution of vorticity perturbations and the balanced-waves arguments, it will be demonstrated that the non-zero eddy radial transport of eddy AAM is an essential outcome from the intrinsic interaction between the mutually growing vortex Rossby waves across the moat under type-2 BI. The analyses of the most unstable mode support the findings and will further attribute the inner eyewall decay and outer eyewall intensification to the divergence and convergence of the eddy angular momentum flux, respectively.

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Tsz-Kin Lai, Eric A. Hendricks, Konstantinos Menelaou, and M. K. Yau

Abstract

Radar imagery of some double-eyewall tropical cyclones shows that the inner eyewalls became elliptical prior to their dissipation during the eyewall replacement cycles, indicating that the barotropic instability (BI) across the moat (also known as type-2 BI) may play a role. To further examine the physics of inner eyewall decay and outer eyewall intensification under the influence of the type-2 instability, three-dimensional numerical experiments are performed. In the moist full-physics run, the simulated vortex exhibits the type-2 instability and the associated azimuthal wavenumber-2 radial flow pattern. The absolute angular momentum (AAM) budget calculation indicates, after the excitation of the type-2 instability, a significant intensification in the negative radial advection of AAM at the inner eyewall. It is further shown that the changes in radial AAM advection largely result from the eddy processes associated with the type-2 instability and contribute significantly to the inner eyewall decay. The budget calculation also suggests that the type-2 instability can accelerate the inner eyewall decay in concert with the boundary layer cutoff effect. Another dry no-physics idealized experiment is conducted and the result shows that the type-2 instability alone is able to weaken the inner eyewall and also strengthen the outer eyewall with nonnegligible effect.

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