A model for the complete radial structure of the tropical cyclone wind field. Part I: Comparison with observed structure

Daniel R. Chavas, Ning Lin, Kerry Emanuel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

57 Scopus citations

Abstract

Part I of this work develops a simple model for the complete radial structure of the low-level tropical cyclone wind field. The model is constructed by mathematically merging existing theoretical solutions for the radial wind structure at the top of the boundary layer in the inner ascending and outer descending regions. The model is then compared with two observational datasets. First, the outer solution is compared with a global database from the QuikSCAT satellite (1999-2009) and found to reproduce the characteristic wind structure of the broad outer region of tropical cyclones at large radii, indicating that the solution successfully captures the physics of this region. Second, the inner solution is compared with the HWind database (2004-12) for the Atlantic and eastern Pacific basins and is shown to be capable of reproducing the inner-core structure while substantially underestimating wind speeds at larger radii. The complete model is then shown to largely, though not entirely, rectify this underestimation. Limitations of the model are discussed, including the need for a formal evaluation of the physics of the inner core as well as a transition-region model at intermediate radii characterized by intermittent convection, such as spiral rainbands. Part II will characterize the model's modes of wind field variability and their relationship to the variability observed in nature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3647-3662
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Volume72
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

Keywords

  • Hurricanes
  • Hurricanes/typhoons
  • Hurricanes/typhoons
  • Tropical cyclones

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