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The Effects of Divergent and Nondivergent Winds on the Kinetic Energy Budget of a Mid-Latitude Cyclone: A Case Study

Tsing-Chang ChenDepartment of Meteorology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139

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Jordan C. AlpertDepartment of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48104

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Thomas W. SchlatterNational Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colo. 80307

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Abstract

The magnitude of the divergent component of the wind is relatively small compared to that of the nondivergent component in large-scale atmospheric flows; nevertheless, it plays an important role in the case of explosive cyclogenesis examined here. We have calculated the kinetic energy budget for the life cycle of an intense, developing cyclone over North America. The principal kinetic energy source is the net horizontal transport across the boundaries of the region enclosing the cyclone. By investigating the relative importance of the divergent and nondivergent wind components in the kinetic energy budget, we found, as expected, that neglecting the divergent wind component in calculating the magnitude of the kinetic energy is of little consequence, but that the horizontal flux convergence and generation of kinetic energy depend crucially upon the divergent component. Modification of the divergent wind component can result in significant changes in the kinetic energy budget of the synoptic system.

Abstract

The magnitude of the divergent component of the wind is relatively small compared to that of the nondivergent component in large-scale atmospheric flows; nevertheless, it plays an important role in the case of explosive cyclogenesis examined here. We have calculated the kinetic energy budget for the life cycle of an intense, developing cyclone over North America. The principal kinetic energy source is the net horizontal transport across the boundaries of the region enclosing the cyclone. By investigating the relative importance of the divergent and nondivergent wind components in the kinetic energy budget, we found, as expected, that neglecting the divergent wind component in calculating the magnitude of the kinetic energy is of little consequence, but that the horizontal flux convergence and generation of kinetic energy depend crucially upon the divergent component. Modification of the divergent wind component can result in significant changes in the kinetic energy budget of the synoptic system.

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