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Turbulent Structures in a Hurricane

Joshua B. Favors Auburn University, Auburn, AL

A review of turbulent structures that occur inside and around a hurricane are presented. A brief overview of the structure and energetics of a hurricane are given. Due to the size of a hurricane, the numerous turbulent structures are sorted into categories based on their origination. The eect of these turbulent uctuations on the hurricane are also discussed.

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critical role of turbulence is in the transport and mixing of uid properties. In a hurricance, also known as a tropical cyclone, this role of turbulence becomes extremely important in the vertical direction. The following paper will look at the implications of turbulent structures orginating in the hurricance boundary layer, the hurricane eyewall, and the ocean beneath the hurricane. It will become clear that a hurricane depends on these turbulent interactions in order to remain a hurricane. Another feature that will be discussed is the fact that a hurricane comprises a wide range of turbulent length scales. Numerical models use parameterizations in order to simplify the hurricane dynamics so that the available computational resources can deliver approximations in a reasonable time frame. Due to the use of these parameterizations, the solutions can vary signicantly on the choice of length scales given to the hurricane. A. History

Give a brief history of modelling along with the use of GPS dropsondes. Give some dates of when important ideas/methods came about and explain that the eld is still not fully understood. Due to a gap in understanding why theses things occur in a hurricane, the area is still heavily researched. Emmanuel,1 Blackadar.2 Also talk about the use of Large Eddy Simulation and the reason it can not be used without some modication.3 quotes: The understanding of both tropical cyclone intensication and wind damage patterns has been hampered by an inability to directly measure surface uxes and 3D turbulence in hurricane conditions. As a result, many tropical cyclone models use turbulence and ux parameterizations that are based on observations in low wind speeds. There is increasing evidence that extrapolating these parameterizations to hurricane-force winds leads to signicant errors.4



Going to explain the basic hurricane structure (hurricane boundary layer, eye and eyewall, troposphere, etc.) and the energetics. Explain the dierent turbulent uxes and the role they play. (Enthalphy, Sensible Heat, Latent Heat, Humidity, Momentum). Also explain how a hurricane is a Carnot engine.1 Other references here will be Blackador,2 Hogstrom,5 and Elcrat.6

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Will also include a few gures to show mean oweld inside the hurricane such as hurricane azimuthal velocity, radial, and vertical velocity in Figure 1

(a) Azimuthal Velocity

(b) Radial Velocity

(c) Vertical Velocity

Figure 1. Mean azimuthal, radial, and vertical velocity inside a hurricane using a simple coupled hurricane model.

quotes: Turbulent air-surface exchange is a controlling factor throughout the life cycle of tropical cyclones. While these storms are over the ocean, their intensity depends strongly on the turbulent transfer of momentum and enthalpy between the ocean and the atmosphere.4



Will talk about the a turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) budget. Show a plot of the vertical position and the realtive values for shear, buoyancy, advection, and transport contributions to the TKE budget. This will allow for a comparison in how each regions TKE budget is used. quotes: Although the intensication and decay of tropical cyclones is partially controlled by factors such as large-scale vertical wind shear and moist entropy ux from the underlying ocean, internal dynamical processes are also important and not clearly understood.7


Hurricane Boundary Layer

Most vital but still not fully understood part of the hurricance. Turbulent mixing allows the enthalpy uxes (which powers the storm) to be brought into the eyewall faster. Can be broken down into two main eddy structures. 1. Small-Scale Turbulence

Small-scale turbulence near the surface is caused by viscous forces. There is a link between them and water spray, which can lead to higher humidity uxes and thus stronger storms.8 2. Roll Vortices

Caused by inertial forces. They are coherent large eddy circulations. Talk about their structure and the role they may play in vertical mixing. Their relationship to hairpin vortices. quotes: Given the importance of boundary layer turbulence to tropical cyclones, accurate estimates of the turbulence and surface uxes are critical to the success of any cyclone modeling eort. Direct observations of turbulence uctuations have been rare under the extreme conditions encountered in hurricanes, particularly

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observations of vertical uxes.4 Morrison has shown that hurricane boundary layer rolls signicantly enhance the surface stress.9 Hurricane BL ows are much more intense and have much higher turbulent uxes than ordinary BL ows and present a major challenge to hurricane BL theory, modeling and parameterization. The uxes of momentum across the hurricane BL containing rolls are substantially larger and dierent in character than those predicted by the standard downgradient diusive parameterizations of turbulence.9



Explain what an eyewall replacement cycle is and how turbulent ow dissipates the inner dieing eyewall. The turbulence present allows the dissipation of the eyewall within a 24 hr. period and usually leads to an increase in hurricane intensity. Also explain what mesovortices (supermixers3 ) are and how their presence around the eye can allow for increasing the enthalpy (sensible and latent heat uxes) into the higher altitudes of the storm which results in intensication. quotes: An important nding was that high equivalent potential temperature, e , air was transported from the eye into the eyewall, thereby increasing the eciency of the hurricane heat engine.7 As an example of the potential importance of mixing processes in the hurricane inner core one could look at the persistent multiple mesovortices that occurred in Hurricane Isabel (2003). It is generally agreed that such mesovortices can play an important role in the radial transport of PV (potential vorticity?) in the hurricane core. is whether such multiple mesovortices can transport high moist entropy from the eye to the eyewall, and thereby explain why both real and model hurricanes often have an intensity that is signicantly higher than that predicted by the axisymmetric MPI theory of Emanuel.7


Surface Interaction

The shearing stress occuring between the moving air and the ocean surface causes turbulent mixing to occur in the ocean depth. If a hurricane stalls for too long, the mixing of deeper water brings colder water to the surface causing the hurricane to deprive itself of the needed heat for survival and will weaken and possibly die out. The interaction with land causes small-scale turbulence in the boundary layer. This small scale turbulence is what leads to high velocity gusts that cause major damage upon landfall. quotes: Hurricanes are some of the strongest forcing events to the ocean. These very localized strong winds create very strong surface currents in the mixed layer, force mixing and entrainment at the bottom of the mixed layer, and cause upwelling of colder thermocline water. The ocean and atmosphere are not independent, so it is necessary to understand their interactions in order to have better forecasting of both systems. This paper will look at a cascade of eects starting with hurricane passage, leading to inertial oscillations that enhance deepening of the mixed layer, which in turn cools the sea surface temperatures, which can aect storm intensity.8 It has long been understood that strong atmospheric forcing events such as fronts or hurricanes can create inertial currents in the upper ocean. After the passage of a hurricane, the storm leaves a wake of these inertial currents that will periodically converge and diverge, creating areas of upwelling and downwelling. Energy transfer from these inertial oscillations will be dependent upon baroclinic modes which propagate both vertically and horizontally. There is also inertial current shears at the bottom of the mixed layer which will induce mixing of waters from the thermocline. Entrainment is the process by which colder waters from the thermocline are mixed into the weakly stratied mixed layer. Hurricanes act to enhance this mixing, partially due to shears from inertial currents, which causes the mixed layer to be cooled and deepened.8

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This simple model shows that rapid intensication occurs as a storm encounters the ocean eddy because of enhanced heat ux. While strong winds usually cause strong mixing in the mixed layer and thus cool down the sea surface, negative feedback to the storm intensity of this kind is limited by the presence of a warm ocean eddy, which provides an insulating eect against the storm-induced mixing and cooling.10



Reiterate main turbulent features given in main body and why the need for accurate turbulence parameterizations would benet the overall forecasting of hurricanes.

1 Emanuel, 2 Blackadar,

K. A., The Theory of Hurricanes, Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 23, 1991, pp. 179196. A. K., Turbulence and Diusion in the Atmosphere: Lectures in Environmental Sciences, Springer, Berlin,

1st ed., 1997. 3 Zhu, P., Simulation and Parameterization of the Turbulent Transport in the Hurricane Boundary Layer by Large Eddies, Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 113, 2008, pp. D17104. 4 Eckman, R. M., Dobosy, R. J., Aubie, D. L., Strong, T. W., and Crawford, T. L., A Pressure-Sphere Anemometer for Measuring Turbulence and Fluxes in Hurricanes, Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, Vol. 24, 2007, pp. 9941007. 5 Hogtrom, U., Hunt, J. C. R., and Smedman, A. S., Theory and Measurements for Turbulence Spectra and Variances in the Atmospheric Neutral Surface Layer, Boundary-Layer Meteorology, Vol. 103, 2002, pp. 101124. 6 Elcrat, A. R., Fornberg, B., and Miller, K. G., Steady Axisymmetric Vortex Flows with Swirl and Shear, Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 613, 2008, pp. 395410. 7 Hendricks, E. A. and Schubert, W. H., Transport and Mixing in Idealized Barotropic Hurricane-Like Vortices, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 2009. 8 Meyers, P., Mixed Layer Response to a Hurricane, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, 2008. 9 Foster, R. C., Why Rolls are Prevalent in the Hurricane Boundary Layer, Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, Vol. 62, 2005, pp. 26472661. 10 Wu, C. C., Lee, C. Y., and Lin, I. I., The Eect of the Ocean Eddy on Tropical Cyclone Intensity, Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, Vol. 64, 2007, pp. 35623578.

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