The Maximum Intensity of Hurricanes

Kerry A. Emanuel Center for Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Abstract

An exact equation governing the maximum possible pressure fall in steady tropical cyclones is developed, accounting for the full effects of gaseous and condensed water on density and thermodynamics. The equation is also derived from Carnot's principle. We demonstrate the existence of critical conditions beyond which no solution for the minimum central pressure exists and speculate on the nature of hurricanes in the supercritical regime.

Abstract

An exact equation governing the maximum possible pressure fall in steady tropical cyclones is developed, accounting for the full effects of gaseous and condensed water on density and thermodynamics. The equation is also derived from Carnot's principle. We demonstrate the existence of critical conditions beyond which no solution for the minimum central pressure exists and speculate on the nature of hurricanes in the supercritical regime.

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