The Hurricane Intensity Issue

Krishnamurti, T. N.; Pattnaik, S.; Stefanova, L.; Kumar, T. S. V. Vijaya; Mackey, B. P.; O'Shay, A. J.; Pasch, Richard J.
July 2005
Monthly Weather Review;Jul2005, Vol. 133 Issue 7, p1886
Academic Journal
The intensity issue of hurricanes is addressed in this paper using the angular momentum budget of a hurricane in storm-relative cylindrical coordinates and a scale-interaction approach. In the angular momentum budget in storm-relative coordinates, a large outer angular momentum of the hurricane is depleted continually along inflowing trajectories. This depletion occurs via surface and planetary boundary layer friction, model diffusion, and “cloud torques”; the latter is a principal contributor to the diminution of outer angular momentum. The eventual angular momentum of the parcel near the storm center determines the storm’s final intensity. The scale-interaction approach is the familiar energetics in the wavenumber domain where the eddy and zonal kinetic energy on the hurricane scale offer some insights on its intensity. Here, however, these are cast in storm-centered local cylindrical coordinates as a point of reference. The wavenumbers include azimuthally averaged wavenumber 0, principal hurricane-scale asymmetries (wavenumbers 1 and 2, determined from datasets) and other scales. The main questions asked here relate to the role of the individual cloud scales in supplying energy to the scales of the hurricane, thus contributing to its intensity. A principal finding is that cloud scales carry most of their variance, via organized convection, directly on the scales of the hurricane. The generation of available potential energy and the transformation of eddy kinetic energy from the cloud scale are in fact directly passed on to the hurricane scale by the vertical overturning processes on the hurricane scale. Less of the kinetic energy is generated on the scales of individual clouds that are of the order of a few kilometers. The other major components of the energetics are the kinetic-to-kinetic energy exchange and available potential-to-available potential energy exchange among different scales. These occur via triad interaction and were noted to be essentially downscale transfer, that is, a cascading process. It is the balance among these processes that seems to dictate the final intensity.


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