A Vertically Resolved Analysis of Radiative Feedbacks on Moist Static Energy Variance in Tropical Cyclones

Bosong Zhang, Brian J. Soden, Gabriel A. Vecchi

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1 Scopus citations


A vertically resolved moist static energy (MSE) variance budget framework is used to diagnose processes associated with the development of tropical cyclones (TCs) in a general circulation model (GCM) under realistic boundary conditions. Previous studies have shown that interactions between radiation and MSE promote TC development. Here, we examine the vertical contributions of radiation and its interactions with MSE by performing several mechanism-denial experiments in which synoptic-scale radiative interactions are suppressed either in the boundary layer or in the free troposphere. Partly suppressing radiative interactions results in a reduction in global TC frequency. However, the magnitude of reduction and structure of the feedback depend on the intensity and structure of the TCs in these mechanism-denial experiments, indicating that both the magnitude and the vertical location of radiative interactions can impact global TC frequency. Using instantaneous 6-hourly outputs, an explicit computation reveals distinct spatial patterns of the advection term: the vertical component is positive in the mid- to upper troposphere, which reflects an upward transport of MSE by deep convection, whereas the horizontal component is positive in the boundary layer. These results illustrate the impact of the vertical distribution of radiative interactions and vertically varied contribution of the advection term in the development of TCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1125-1141
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • Advection
  • General circulation models
  • Radiation
  • Tropical cyclones


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