The motion of Hurricane Gloria: A Potential Vorticity Diagnosis

View More View Less
  • 1 Hurricane Research Division, AOML/NOAA, Miami, Florida
© Get Permissions
Full access

Abstract

Multilevel, multinested analyses of Hurricane Gloria of 1985 are the most comprehensive kinematic dataset yet developed for a single hurricane. A piecewise inversion technique is used with these analyses and the nonlinear balance equation to deduce the three-dimensional distribution of potential vorticity (PV) that contributed to the deep-layer mean (DLM) flow that steered Gloria toward the northwest. The background state is taken to be the azimuthally averaged winds in balance with a geopotential distribution on an f plane. Advantage is taken of the near-linearity of the weak asymmetries near the hurricane's core and of PV in the environment. Thus, ad hoc aspects of the linearization required by other investigators are effectively eliminated. Removal of the hurricane vortex and the use of a climatological mean background state are avoided as well. The insensitivity of the results to the imposed lateral boundary conditions is also demonstrated.

Wind anomalies attributable to pieces of anomalous PV restricted to cylinders of different radii centered on the hurricane are evaluated. The DLM wind that steered Gloria to the northwest is primarily attributable to PV anomalies confined within a cylinder of radius 1000 km and levels 500 mb and above, including positive anomalies associated with a cold low over Cuba. The vector difference between the hurricane's observed motion and the DLM wind at Gloria's center attributable to these PV anomalies is 1.0 m s−1, explaining more than five-sixths of the hurricane's 6.2 m s−1 motion. Implications for measurements required to establish short-term changes of the environmental steering flow are considered. Difficulties in the interpretation of results are discussed for PV anomalies that are confined to noncircular regions; the implication for other studies is considered as well.

Abstract

Multilevel, multinested analyses of Hurricane Gloria of 1985 are the most comprehensive kinematic dataset yet developed for a single hurricane. A piecewise inversion technique is used with these analyses and the nonlinear balance equation to deduce the three-dimensional distribution of potential vorticity (PV) that contributed to the deep-layer mean (DLM) flow that steered Gloria toward the northwest. The background state is taken to be the azimuthally averaged winds in balance with a geopotential distribution on an f plane. Advantage is taken of the near-linearity of the weak asymmetries near the hurricane's core and of PV in the environment. Thus, ad hoc aspects of the linearization required by other investigators are effectively eliminated. Removal of the hurricane vortex and the use of a climatological mean background state are avoided as well. The insensitivity of the results to the imposed lateral boundary conditions is also demonstrated.

Wind anomalies attributable to pieces of anomalous PV restricted to cylinders of different radii centered on the hurricane are evaluated. The DLM wind that steered Gloria to the northwest is primarily attributable to PV anomalies confined within a cylinder of radius 1000 km and levels 500 mb and above, including positive anomalies associated with a cold low over Cuba. The vector difference between the hurricane's observed motion and the DLM wind at Gloria's center attributable to these PV anomalies is 1.0 m s−1, explaining more than five-sixths of the hurricane's 6.2 m s−1 motion. Implications for measurements required to establish short-term changes of the environmental steering flow are considered. Difficulties in the interpretation of results are discussed for PV anomalies that are confined to noncircular regions; the implication for other studies is considered as well.

Save