A model for the complete radial structure of the tropical cyclone wind field. Part II: Wind field variability

Daniel R. Chavas, Ning Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Part I of this work developed a simple physical model for the complete radial structure of the low-level azimuthal wind field in a tropical cyclone that compared well with observations. However, wind field variability in the model is tied principally to its external parameters given by the maximum wind speed and the radius of maximum wind, the latter of which lacks a credible independent physical model for its variability. Here the authors explore the modes of variability that arise from the alternative specification of the model, which takes the outer radius in lieu of the radius of maximum wind. Nondimensionalization of the model reveals two theoretical modes of structural variability in absolute angular momentum that are shown to closely match observations. These two modes correspond to three modes of wind field variability associated with variations in intensity, outer storm size, and latitude. These wind field modes are demonstrated to mirror the dominant modes of variability found in nature, in particular the intrastorm variation of inner-core structure and the interstorm variation of overall storm size. In combination, the model offers a credible physical solution for the complete time-dependent tropical cyclone wind field in conjunction with the external specification of intensity, outer size, and latitude. More broadly, the model offers theoretical and conceptual insight into the nature of the tropical cyclone wind field, including the oft-conflated terms "size" and "structure" and their distinct variabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3093-3113
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • Atm/ocean structure/ phenomena
  • Hurricanes/typhoons
  • Tropical cyclones


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