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On the Hyperbolicity of the Bulk Air–Sea Heat Flux Functions: Insights into the Efficiency of Air–Sea Moisture Disequilibrium for Tropical Cyclone Intensification

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  • 1 Department of Ocean Sciences, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Florida
  • | 2 NOAA/Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory/Hurricane Research Division, Miami, Florida
  • | 3 Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, University of Miami, Miami, Florida
  • | 4 National Research Council, Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey, California
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Abstract

Sea-to-air heat fluxes are the energy source for tropical cyclone (TC) development and maintenance. In the bulk aerodynamic formulas, these fluxes are a function of surface wind speed U10 and air–sea temperature and moisture disequilibrium (ΔT and Δq, respectively). Although many studies have explained TC intensification through the mutual dependence between increasing U10 and increasing sea-to-air heat fluxes, recent studies have found that TC intensification can occur through deep convective vortex structures that obtain their local buoyancy from sea-to-air moisture fluxes, even under conditions of relatively low wind. Herein, a new perspective on the bulk aerodynamic formulas is introduced to evaluate the relative contribution of wind-driven (U10) and thermodynamically driven (ΔT and Δq) ocean heat uptake. Previously unnoticed salient properties of these formulas, reported here, are as follows: 1) these functions are hyperbolic and 2) increasing Δq is an efficient mechanism for enhancing the fluxes. This new perspective was used to investigate surface heat fluxes in six TCs during phases of steady-state intensity (SS), slow intensification (SI), and rapid intensification (RI). A capping of wind-driven heat uptake was found during periods of SS, SI, and RI. Compensation by larger values of Δq > 5 g kg−1 at moderate values of U10 led to intense inner-core moisture fluxes of greater than 600 W m−2 during RI. Peak values in Δq preferentially occurred over oceanic regimes with higher sea surface temperature (SST) and upper-ocean heat content. Thus, increasing SST and Δq is a very effective way to increase surface heat fluxes—this can easily be achieved as a TC moves over deeper warm oceanic regimes.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Benjamin Jaimes de la Cruz, bjaimes@rsmas.miami.edu

Abstract

Sea-to-air heat fluxes are the energy source for tropical cyclone (TC) development and maintenance. In the bulk aerodynamic formulas, these fluxes are a function of surface wind speed U10 and air–sea temperature and moisture disequilibrium (ΔT and Δq, respectively). Although many studies have explained TC intensification through the mutual dependence between increasing U10 and increasing sea-to-air heat fluxes, recent studies have found that TC intensification can occur through deep convective vortex structures that obtain their local buoyancy from sea-to-air moisture fluxes, even under conditions of relatively low wind. Herein, a new perspective on the bulk aerodynamic formulas is introduced to evaluate the relative contribution of wind-driven (U10) and thermodynamically driven (ΔT and Δq) ocean heat uptake. Previously unnoticed salient properties of these formulas, reported here, are as follows: 1) these functions are hyperbolic and 2) increasing Δq is an efficient mechanism for enhancing the fluxes. This new perspective was used to investigate surface heat fluxes in six TCs during phases of steady-state intensity (SS), slow intensification (SI), and rapid intensification (RI). A capping of wind-driven heat uptake was found during periods of SS, SI, and RI. Compensation by larger values of Δq > 5 g kg−1 at moderate values of U10 led to intense inner-core moisture fluxes of greater than 600 W m−2 during RI. Peak values in Δq preferentially occurred over oceanic regimes with higher sea surface temperature (SST) and upper-ocean heat content. Thus, increasing SST and Δq is a very effective way to increase surface heat fluxes—this can easily be achieved as a TC moves over deeper warm oceanic regimes.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Benjamin Jaimes de la Cruz, bjaimes@rsmas.miami.edu
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