13.5 Inertial production of mean kinetic energy in atmospheric vortices

Thursday, 8 August 2013: 5:45 PM
Multnomah (DoubleTree by Hilton Portland)
Gregory J. Tripoli, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, WI

The energy budget within mesoscale vortical structures, such as tropical cyclones, MCVs, and tornado vortices are investigated. Exchanges of energy between kinetic, potential and thermal energies are quantified and important conversions, not often considered are discussed. In particular, the relative roles of buoyancy and inertial production of turbulence kinetic energy and mean kinetic energy are shown to provide pathways for the upscale growth of a vortex from thermal circulations fueled by available potential energy as well as the upscale conversion of smaller scales of kinetic energy. A specific example of this concept found in the literature is the vortical hot tower energy conversion present during tropical cyclone genesis. We will show this to be a specific example of a more general class of upscale energy transfer possible in the presence of a parent vortex and conditional or explicit static instability. More generally, these up-scale transfers include not only energy transfer from buoyancy instabilities, but also transfers between vortical circulations of different scales produced by other means such as through mechanical production. We will argue that these are general mechanisms for the upscale transfer of small scale energy driven by inertial stability analogous to how buoyancy production in the presence of strong static stability can protect sheared flows from mechanical production.
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