27th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology


Interactions between simulated tropical cyclones and an environment with a variable coriolis parameter

Elizabeth A. Ritchie, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM; and W. M. Frank

Numerical simulations of tropical cyclones are performed to examine the effects of a variable Coriolis parameter on the structure and intensity of hurricanes. The simulations are performed using the nonhydrostatic Penn State/ National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model using a 5-km fine mesh and fully explicit representation of moist processes.

When a variable f environment is applied to a mature tropical cyclone, a persistent north-northwesterly shear develops over the storm center as a result of an interaction between the primary circulation of the storm and the gradient in absolute vorticity. As a result, the variable-f storm quickly develops a persistent wave-number-one asymmetry in its inner-core structure with upward motion and rainfall concentrated on the left side of the shear looking downshear, in agreement with earlier studies. In comparison, the constant-f storm develops weak transient asymmetries in structure that are only partially related to a weak vertical wind shear. As a result, it is found that the tropical cyclone with variable f intensifies slightly more slowly than that with constant f, and reaches a final intensity that is about 5 mb weaker.

In this paper we will argue that this “beta shear” is not adequately represented in large-scale analyses and so does not figure into calculations of environmental shear. Although the effect of the “beta shear” on the tropical cyclone intensity seems small by itself, when combined with the environmental shear it can produce a large net shear or it can reduce an environmental shear below the apparent threshold to impact storm intensity. If this result proves to be generally true, then the presence of an additional overlooked “beta shear” may well explain differences in the response of tropical cyclone intensification to westerly versus easterly shear regimes.

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Session 1B, Tropical Cyclone Structure I
Monday, 24 April 2006, 8:00 AM-9:45 AM, Regency Grand BR 1-3

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