A Cyclone Phase Space Derived from Thermal Wind and Thermal Asymmetry

Hart, Robert E.
April 2003
Monthly Weather Review;Apr2003, Vol. 131 Issue 4, p585
Academic Journal
An objectively defined three-dimensional cyclone phase space is proposed and explored. Cyclone phase is described using the parameters of storm-motion-relative thickness asymmetry (symmetric/nonfrontal versus asymmetric/frontal) and vertical derivative of horizontal height gradient (cold- versus warm-core structure via the thermal wind relationship). A cyclone's life cycle can be analyzed within this phase space, providing substantial insight into the cyclone structural evolution. An objective classification of cyclone phase is possible, unifying the basic structural description of tropical, extratropical, and hybrid cyclones into a continuum. Stereotypical symmetric warm-core (tropical cyclone) and asymmetric cold-core (extratropical cyclone) life cycles are illustrated using 1° Navy Operational Global Atmospheric Prediction System (NOGAPS) operational analyses and 2.5° NCEP–NCAR reanalyses. The transitions between cyclone phases are clearly illustrated within the phase space, including extratropical transition, subtropical and tropical transition, and the development of warm seclusions within extratropical cyclones. The planet's northwestern hemisphere inhabitance of the proposed phase space between 1980 and 1999 is examined using NCEP–NCAR 2.5° reanalyses. Despite the inability to adequately resolve tropical cyclones at the coarse 2.5° resolution, warm-core cyclones (primarily warm-seclusion extratropical cyclones) have a mean intensity that is 10 hPa lower than that of cold-core cyclones. Warm-core cyclones also have a much larger variability for intensity distribution, with an increased occurrence of lower MSLP. Further, at 2.5° resolution the lowest analyzed MSLP for a warm-core cyclone was 14 hPa lower than that for a cyclone that remains cold core. These results suggest that cyclones that maintain solely a cold-core structure (no warm-seclusion or tropical development) may be associated with a significantly weaker...


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