Idealized Numerical Modeling Experiments of the Diurnal Cycle of Tropical Cyclones
Navarro, Erika Lourdes
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Numerical experiments are performed to evaluate the role of the daily cycle of radiation on axisymmetric hurricane structure. Although a diurnal response in the high cloudiness of tropical cyclones (TCs) has been well documented in the past, the impact to storm structure and intensity remains unknown. Previous modeling work attributes differences in results to experimental setup (e.g., initial and boundary conditions) as well as to radiative parameterization schemes. Here, a numerically--simulated TC in a statistical steady-state is examined to quantify the TC response to the daily cycle of radiation, and a modified, Sawyer--Eliassen approach is applied to evaluate the dynamical mechanism. Fourier analysis in time reveals a spatially coherent pattern in the temperature, wind, and latent heating tendency fields that is statistically significant at the 95% level. This signal accounts for up to 62% of the variance in the temperature field of the upper troposphere, and is mainly concentrated in the TC outflow layer. Composite analysis reveals a cycle in the storm intensity in the low-levels, which lags a periodic response in the latent heating tendency by 6 h. Average magnitudes of the azimuthal wind anomalies near the radius of maximum wind (RMW) are 1 m/s and account for 21% of the overall variance. A hypothesis is drawn from these results that the TC diurnal cycle is comprised of two distinct, periodic circulations: (1) a radiatively--driven circulation in the TC outflow layer due to absorption of solar radiation, and (2) a convectively--driven circulation in the lower and middle troposphere due to anomalous latent heating from convection. These responses are coupled and are periodic with respect to the diurnal cycle. Using a modified, Sawyer-Eliassen approach for time--varying heating, these hypotheses are evaluated to determine the impact of periodic diurnal heating on a balanced vortex. Periodic heating near the top of the vortex produces a local overturning circulation in the region of heating that manifests as inertia--buoyancy waves in the storm environment. Periodic heating in the lower troposphere drives an overturning circulation that resembles the Sawyer--Eliassen solution. This low--level heating induces a positive perturbation azimuthal wind response of 4 m/s near the RMW, which lags the maximum in streamfunction by 6 h. Comparison of these solutions to the numerically--simulated TC reveals a close correspondence of results, suggesting that the axisymmetric TC diurnal cycle is a balanced response driven by periodic heating. The sensitivity of these results to the length of the diurnal period and the vortex intensity are evaluated using the modified, Sawyer--Eliassen approach. Although the true diurnal period is fixed in nature, these experiments allow for the relationship between the magnitude and structure of the TC diurnal signal to the length of the diurnal period to be explored. Results demonstrate that the TC diurnal cycle exhibits large variance, even for the same heating distributions. High--frequency forcing projects mainly onto inertia--buoyancy waves, while low--frequency produces a balanced response resembling the Sawyer--Eliassen solution. Comparison to two, numerically simulated TCs with modified diurnal periods show similar results. In addition, stronger diurnal signals are observed for stronger vortices, suggesting a dependence of the TC diurnal signal on the underlying state of the vortex. These results imply that the magnitude and structure of the TC diurnal signal in nature varies throughout the storm lifetime, and is a function of the structure and intensity of the vortex.
- Atmospheric sciences