The Impacts of Numerical Schemes on Asymmetric Hurricane Intensification

Tuesday, 19 April 2016
Plaza Grand Ballroom (The Condado Hilton Plaza)
Stephen Guimond, University of Maryland, College Park, MD; and J. Reisner, S. Marras, and F. X. Giraldo

The fundamental pathways for tropical cyclone (TC) intensification are explored by considering axisymmetric and asymmetric impulsive thermal perturbations to balanced, TC-like vortices using the dynamic cores of three different nonlinear numerical models. Attempts at reproducing the results of previous work, which used the community atmospheric model WRF (Nolan and Grasso 2003; NG03), revealed a discrepancy with the impacts of purely asymmetric thermal forcing. The current study finds that thermal asymmetries can have an important, largely positive role on the vortex intensification whereas NG03 and other studies find that asymmetric impacts are negligible.

Analysis of the spectral energetics of each numerical model indicates that the vortex response to asymmetric thermal perturbations is significantly damped in WRF relative to the other numerical models. Spectral kinetic energy budgets show that this anomalous damping is due to the increased removal of kinetic energy from the vertical convergence of the vertical pressure flux, which is related to the flux of inertia-gravity wave energy. The increased kinetic energy in the other two models is shown to originate around the scales of the heating and propagate upscale with time. For very large thermal amplitudes (50 K), the anomalous removal of kinetic energy due to inertia-gravity wave activity is much smaller resulting in good agreement between models.

The results of this paper indicate that the numerical treatment of small-scale processes that project strongly onto inertia-gravity wave energy can lead to significant differences in asymmetric TC intensification. Currently, these results only apply to the idealized scenario described herein with examinations to a more realistic TC environment ongoing. Preliminary results using very high resolution observational heating pulses will be described.

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