8C.7 The Impact of Environmental Inertial Stability on the Secondary Circulation of Axisymmetric Tropical Cyclones

Wednesday, 18 April 2018: 9:30 AM
Champions ABC (Sawgrass Marriott)
Morgan E O'Neill, Univ. of Chicago, Chicago, IL; and D. R. Chavas

In f-plane numerical simulations and analytical theory, tropical cyclones completely recycle their exhausted outflow air back into the boundary layer. This low-angular momentum air must experience cyclonic torque at the sea surface for cyclone to reach equilibrium. On Earth, however, it is not clear that tropical cyclones recycle all of the outflow air in a closed secondary circulation, and strong asymmetric outflow-jet interactions suggest that much of the air may be permanently evacuated from the storm over its lifetime. The fraction of outflow air that is returned to the near-storm boundary layer is in part a function of the environmental inertial stability, which controls the size and strength of the upper anticyclone.
We run a suite of idealized axisymmetric tropical cyclone simulations at constant latitude while varying the outer domain’s inertial stability profile. Fixing the latitude allows the gradient wind balance of the storm core to remain constant except for changes due to the far environment. By varying both the outer inertial stability and its location with respect to the Rossby radius of deformation, we show how the tropical cyclone’s area-of-influence is controlled by the nature and strength of the upper anticyclone. Parcel tracking additionally demonstrates the likelihood of outflow air parcels to be quickly re-consumed by the secondary circulation as a function of inertial stability. These experiments demonstrate the sensitivity of the tropical cyclone’s secondary circulation, typically assumed to be closed, to the dynamics of the far environment.
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