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Yoshiaki Miyamoto and Tetsuya Takemi

Abstract

A mechanism for the transition of tropical cyclones (TCs) to the spontaneous rapid intensification (RI) phase is proposed based on numerical results of a three-dimensional full-physics model. The intensification phase of the simulated TC is divided into three subphases according to the rate of intensification: 1) a slowly intensifying phase, 2) an RI phase, and 3) an adjustment phase toward the quasi-steady state. The evolution of a TC vortex is diagnosed by the energy budget analysis and the degree of axisymmetric structure of the TC vortex, and the simulated TC is determined to be axisymmetrized 12 h before the onset of RI. It is found that equivalent potential temperature θe in the lowest layer suddenly increases inside the radius of maximum azimuthally averaged horizontal wind r ma after the TC becomes nearly axisymmetric. Forward trajectory analyses revealed that the enhanced convective instability in the TC core region where the eyewall subsequently forms results from the increased inertial stability of the TC core after the axisymmetrization. Since fluid parcels remain longer inside r ma, owing to the increased inertial stability, the parcels obtain more enthalpy from the underlying ocean. As a result, low-level θe and hence convective available potential energy (CAPE) increase. Under the condition with increased CAPE, the eyewall is intensified and the secondary circulation is enhanced, leading to the increased convergence of low-level inflow; this process is considered to be the trigger of RI. Once the eyewall forms, the simulated TC starts its RI.

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Yoshiaki Miyamoto and Tetsuya Takemi

Abstract

Triggering processes for the rapidly intensifying phase of a tropical cyclone (TC) were investigated on the basis of numerical experiments using a three-dimensional nonhydrostatic model. The results revealed that the rapid intensification of the simulated TC commenced following the formation of a circular cloud, which occurred about 12 h after the TC became essentially axisymmetric. The circular cloud (eyewall) evolved from a cloudy convective cell that was originally generated near the radius of maximum wind speed (RMW). The development of the convective cell in the eyewall was closely related to the radial location of the strong boundary layer convergence of axisymmetric flow. The radius of maximum convergence (RMC) was small relative to the RMW when the TC vortex was weak, which is consistent with the boundary layer theory for a rotating fluid system on a frictional surface. As the TC intensified, the RMC approached the RMW. An eyewall was very likely to form in the simulated TC when the RMC approached the RMW. Because the RMC is theoretically determined by a Rossby number defined by the maximum tangential velocity, RMW, and Coriolis parameter, a series of numerical experiments was conducted by changing the three parameters. The results were consistent with the hypothesis that intensification occurs earlier for larger Rossby numbers. This finding indicates that initial TC vortices with larger Rossby numbers are more likely to experience rapid intensification and, hence, to evolve into strong hurricanes.

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Yoshiaki Miyamoto and David S. Nolan

Abstract

Structural changes that precede rapid intensification (RI) of tropical cyclones (TCs) are examined in a full-physics model by conducting a large ensemble (270) of idealized TC simulations. The processes leading to RI in a representative case with moderate shear are consistent with previous studies for weakly sheared cases. The most distinct changes are that the vortex tilt and the vortex size begin to decrease more rapidly 6 h before the onset of RI. A vorticity budget analysis for the upper layer around the low-level center reveals that the vertical vorticity is increased by vertical advection, stretching, and tilting terms before RI, whereas the horizontal advection is small. Thus, the upright vortex structure is not achieved through a vortex alignment process but rather is built upward by deep convection.

The ensemble simulations are generated by changing the intensity and size of the initial vortex, the magnitude of vertical wind shear, and the translation speed. The ensemble members that show RI are consistent with the control case and many previous studies: before the onset of RI, the intensity gradually increases, the radius of maximum tangential wind (RMW) decreases, the flow structure becomes more symmetric, the vortex tilt decreases, and the radius of maximum convergence approaches the radius of maximum winds. A dimensionless parameter representing a tendency for the formation of the vertically upright structure is considered. The product of this parameter and the local Rossby number is significantly larger for TCs that exhibit RI in the next 24 h.

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Hironori Fudeyasu, Kosuke Ito, and Yoshiaki Miyamoto

ABSTRACT

This study statistically investigates the characteristics of tropical cyclones (TCs) undergoing rapid intensification (RI) in the western North Pacific in the 37 years from 1979 to 2015 and the relevant atmospheric and oceanic environments. Among 900 TCs, 201 TCs undergoing RI (RI-TCs) are detected by our definition as a wind speed increase of 30 kt (15.4 m s−1) or more in a 24-h period. RI-TCs potentially occur throughout the year, with low variation in RI-TC occurrence rate among the seasons. Conversely, the annual occurrence of RI-TC varies widely. In El Niño years, TCs tend to undergo RI mainly as a result of average locations at the time of tropical storm formation (TSF) being farther east and south, whereas TCs experience RI less frequently in La Niña years. The occurrence rates of RI-TC increased from the 1990s to the late 2000s. The RI onset time is typically 0–66 h after the TSF and the duration that satisfies the criteria of RI is 1–2 days. RI frequently occurs over the zonally elongated area around the eastern Philippine Sea. The development stage and life-span are longer in RI-TCs than in TCs that do not undergo RI. RI-TCs are small at the time of TSF and tend to develop as intense TCs as a result of environmental conditions favorable for TC development, weak vertical wind shear, high convective available potential energy, and tropical cyclone heat potential. The occurrence rates of RI-TCs that make landfall in Japan and the Philippines are higher than in China and Vietnam.

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Udai Shimada, Kazumasa Aonashi, and Yoshiaki Miyamoto

Abstract

The relationship of tropical cyclone (TC) future intensity change to current intensity and current axisymmetricity deduced from hourly Global Satellite Mapping of Precipitation (GSMaP) data was investigated. Axisymmetricity is a metric that correlates positively with the magnitude of the axisymmetric component of the rainfall rate and negatively with the magnitude of the asymmetric component. The samples used were all of the TCs that existed in the western North Pacific basin during the years 2000–15. The results showed that, during the development stage, the intensification rate at the current time, and 6 and 12 h after the current time was strongly related to both the current intensity and axisymmetricity. On average, the higher the axisymmetricity, the larger the intensity change in the next 24 h for TCs with a current central pressure (maximum sustained wind) between 945 and 995 hPa (85 and 40 kt). The mean value of the axisymmetricity for TCs experiencing rapid intensification (RI) was much higher than that for non-RI TCs for current intensities of 960–990 hPa. The new observational evidence for the intensification process presented here is consistent with the findings of previous theoretical studies emphasizing the role of the axisymmetric component of diabatic heating.

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Yousuke Sato, Yoshiaki Miyamoto, and Hirofumi Tomita

Abstract

The dependence of lightning frequency on the life cycle of an idealized tropical cyclone (TC) was investigated using a three-dimensional meteorological model coupled with an explicit lightning model. To investigate this dependence, an idealized numerical simulation covering the initial state to the steady state (SS) of an idealized TC was conducted. The simulation was consistent with the temporal evolution of lightning frequency reported by previous observational studies. Our analyses showed that the dependence originates from changes in the types of convective cloud with lightning over the life cycle of the TC. Before rapid intensification (RI) and in the early stage of RI, convective cloud cells that form under high-convective available potential energy (CAPE) conditions are the main contributors to lightning. As the TC reaches the late stage of RI and approaches SS, the secondary circulation becomes prominent and convective clouds in the eyewall region alongside the secondary circulation gradually become the main contributors to the lightning. In the convective cloud cells formed under high-CAPE conditions, upward velocity is strong and large charge density is provided through noninductive charge separation induced by graupel collisions. This large charge density frequently induces lightning in the clouds. On the other hand, the vertical velocity in the eyewall is weak, and it tends to contribute to lightning only when the TC reaches the mature stage. Our analyses imply that the maximum lightning frequency that occurs before the maximum intensity of a TC corresponds to the stage of a TC’s life cycle in which convective cloud cells are generated most frequently and moisten the upper troposphere.

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Yoshiaki Miyamoto, David S. Nolan, and Norihiko Sugimoto

Abstract

This study proposes that secondary eyewall formation (SEF) of tropical cyclones (TCs) can be attributed to an instability of flow in the free atmosphere coupled with Ekman pumping. Unstable solutions of a 1.5-layer shallow-water system are obtained under fast–wind speed conditions in the free atmosphere. The instability condition derived in the linear model indicates the importance of the ratio of angular velocity to vorticity, and the condition is more likely to be satisfied when the ratio is large and its radial gradient is positive. Thus, fast angular velocity, low absolute vertical vorticity, small negative radial gradient of angular velocity, and large negative gradient of vertical vorticity are favorable. Eigenvalue analyses are performed over a wide range of parameters using a vorticity profile with an infinitesimal secondary maximum. The growth rate increases with vorticity outside the radius of maximum wind (RMW), the radius of the secondary vorticity maximum, its magnitude, and the Rossby number defined by maximum tangential velocity, the RMW, and the Coriolis parameter. Furthermore, the growth rate is positive only between 2 and 7 times the RMW, and it is negative close to or far outside the RMW. These features are consistent with previous studies on SEF. A dimensionless quantity obtained from the unstable condition in the linear theory is applied to SEF events simulated by two different full-physics numerical models; increases several hours before a secondary peak of tangential velocity forms, suggesting that the initial process of SEF can be attributed to the proposed mechanism.

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Kosuke Ito, Yoichi Ishikawa, Yoshiaki Miyamoto, and Toshiyuki Awaji

Abstract

To clarify the effect of fluctuations in surface stress and heat fluxes on the intensity of a mature-state hurricane, a sensitivity analysis is performed by using a cloud-permitting nonhydrostatic axisymmetric adjoint model. The response function of our experiment is tangential velocity at the top of the boundary layer in the eyewall.

As a result of an integration backward to 4 min prior to the specified time, a dipole pattern appears in the sensitivity fields with respect to the vertical velocity, the potential temperature, and the mixing ratio of water vapor. A positive (negative) sensitivity is found in the hurricane interior (exterior) relative to the verification region. It exhibits an increase of tangential velocity 4 min after the introduction of positive (negative) perturbations in potential temperature or in the mixing ratio of water vapor in the interior (exterior). These sensitivities are not related to the changes in the central pressure field. With further backward integration, the sensitivity signals reach down to the surface and are located in the exterior region of the hurricane. While the sensitivity with respect to surface friction (heat flux) is strongly negative (positive) within a certain radius, the sensitivity can be positive (negative) beyond that radius. This means that both stronger friction and a reduction in moist air supply in the exterior region of the hurricane can serve to strengthen the maximum tangential velocity. To the authors’ knowledge, this effect has not been explained in previous studies.

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Yoshiaki Miyamoto, Masaki Satoh, Hirofumi Tomita, Kazuyoshi Oouchi, Yohei Yamada, Chihiro Kodama, and James Kinter III

Abstract

The degree of gradient wind balance was investigated in a number of tropical cyclones (TCs) simulated under realistic environments. The results of global-scale numerical simulations without cumulus parameterization were used, with a horizontal mesh size of 7 km. On average, azimuthally averaged maximum tangential velocities at 850 (925) hPa in the simulated TCs were 0.72% (1.95%) faster than gradient wind–balanced tangential velocity (GWV) during quasi-steady periods. Of the simulated TCs, 75% satisfied the gradient wind balance at the radius of maximum wind speed (RMW) at 850 and at 925 hPa to within about 4.0%. These results were qualitatively similar to those obtained during the intensification phase. In contrast, averages of the maximum and minimum deviations from the GWV, in all the azimuths at the RMW, achieved up to 40% of the maximum tangential velocity. Azimuthally averaged tangential velocities exceeded the GWV (i.e., supergradient) inside the RMW in the lower troposphere, whereas the velocities were close to or slightly slower than GWV (i.e., subgradient) in the other regions. The tangential velocities at 925 hPa were faster (slower) in the right-hand (left hand) side of the TC motion. When the tangential velocities at the RMW were supergradient, the primary circulation tended to decay rapidly in the vertical direction and slowly in the radial direction, and the eyewall updraft and the RMW were at larger radii. Statistical analyses revealed that the TC with supergradient wind at the RMW at 850 hPa was characterized by stronger intensity, larger RMW, more axisymmetric structure, and an intensity stronger than potential intensity.

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David S. Nolan, Yoshiaki Miyamoto, Shun-nan Wu, and Brian J. Soden

Abstract

While the transfer of moist enthalpy from the ocean to the atmosphere is the fundamental energy source for tropical cyclones, the release of latent heat in moist convection is the mechanism by which this energy is converted into the kinetic and potential energy of these storms. Most observational estimates of this heat release rely on satellite estimates of rain rate. Here, examination of five high-resolution numerical simulations of tropical cyclones reveals that there is a close correlation between the total condensate and the total heating, even though the former quantity is an amount and the latter is a rate. This relationship is due to the fact that for condensate to be sustained at large values, it must be rapidly replaced by new condensate and associated latent heating. Total condensate and total rain rate within fixed radial distances such as 111 km also show good correlations with the current intensity of the storm, but surprisingly, high values of condensate at high altitudes and close to the storm center are not good predictors of imminent intensification. These relationships are confirmed with an additional ensemble of 270 idealized simulations of tropical cyclones with varying sizes and intensities. Finally, simulated measurements of total condensate are computed from narrow swaths modeled after the cloud profiling radar on the CloudSat satellite. Despite their narrow footprint and the fact that they rarely cut through the exact center of the cyclone, these estimates of total condensate also show a useful correlation with current intensity.

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