Tropical cyclogenesis and vertical shear in a moist Boussinesq model

Qiang Deng, Leslie Smith, Andrew Majda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Tropical cyclogenesis is studied in the context of idealized three-dimensional Boussinesq dynamics with perhaps the simplest possible model for bulk cloud physics. With low-altitude input of water vapour on realistic length and time scales, numerical simulations capture the formation of vortical hot towers. From measurements of water vapour, vertical velocity, vertical vorticity and rain, it is demonstrated that the structure, strength and lifetime of the hot towers are similar to results from models including more detailed cloud microphysics. The effects of low-altitude vertical shear are investigated by varying the initial zonal velocity profile. In the presence of weak low-level vertical shear, the hot towers retain the low-altitude monopole cyclonic structure characteristic of the zero-shear case (starting from zero velocity). Some initial velocity profiles with small vertical shear can have the effect of increasing cyclonic predominance of individual hot towers in a statistical sense, as measured by the skewness of vertical vorticity. Convergence of horizontal winds in the atmospheric boundary layer is mimicked by increasing the frequency of the moisture forcing in a horizontal subdomain. When the moisture forcing is turned off, and again for zero shear or weak low-level shear, merger of cyclonic activity results in the formation of a larger-scale cyclonic vortex. An effect of the shear is to limit the vertical extent of the resulting emergent moist vortex. For stronger low-altitude vertical shear, the individual hot towers have a low-altitude vorticity dipole rather than a cyclonic monopole. The dipoles are not conducive to the formation of larger-scale vortices, and thus sufficiently strong low-level shear prevents the vortical-hot-tower route to cyclogenesis. The results indicate that the simplest condensation and evaporation schemes are useful for exploratory numerical simulations aimed at better understanding of competing effects such as low-level moisture and vertical shear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)384-412
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Volume706
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 10 2012

Fingerprint

cyclogenesis
Towers
shear
towers
low altitude
Vorticity
Vortex flow
Moisture
Water vapor
moisture
vorticity
Atmospheric boundary layer
vortices
monopoles
Computer simulation
water vapor
cloud physics
velocity distribution
Rain
Condensation

Keywords

  • atmospheric flows
  • moist convection
  • stratified flows

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics

Cite this

Tropical cyclogenesis and vertical shear in a moist Boussinesq model. / Deng, Qiang; Smith, Leslie; Majda, Andrew.

In: Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 706, 10.09.2012, p. 384-412.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{468749e9b1ea44308426d5fdbb417b73,
title = "Tropical cyclogenesis and vertical shear in a moist Boussinesq model",
abstract = "Tropical cyclogenesis is studied in the context of idealized three-dimensional Boussinesq dynamics with perhaps the simplest possible model for bulk cloud physics. With low-altitude input of water vapour on realistic length and time scales, numerical simulations capture the formation of vortical hot towers. From measurements of water vapour, vertical velocity, vertical vorticity and rain, it is demonstrated that the structure, strength and lifetime of the hot towers are similar to results from models including more detailed cloud microphysics. The effects of low-altitude vertical shear are investigated by varying the initial zonal velocity profile. In the presence of weak low-level vertical shear, the hot towers retain the low-altitude monopole cyclonic structure characteristic of the zero-shear case (starting from zero velocity). Some initial velocity profiles with small vertical shear can have the effect of increasing cyclonic predominance of individual hot towers in a statistical sense, as measured by the skewness of vertical vorticity. Convergence of horizontal winds in the atmospheric boundary layer is mimicked by increasing the frequency of the moisture forcing in a horizontal subdomain. When the moisture forcing is turned off, and again for zero shear or weak low-level shear, merger of cyclonic activity results in the formation of a larger-scale cyclonic vortex. An effect of the shear is to limit the vertical extent of the resulting emergent moist vortex. For stronger low-altitude vertical shear, the individual hot towers have a low-altitude vorticity dipole rather than a cyclonic monopole. The dipoles are not conducive to the formation of larger-scale vortices, and thus sufficiently strong low-level shear prevents the vortical-hot-tower route to cyclogenesis. The results indicate that the simplest condensation and evaporation schemes are useful for exploratory numerical simulations aimed at better understanding of competing effects such as low-level moisture and vertical shear.",
keywords = "atmospheric flows, moist convection, stratified flows",
author = "Qiang Deng and Leslie Smith and Andrew Majda",
year = "2012",
month = "9",
day = "10",
doi = "10.1017/jfm.2012.260",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "706",
pages = "384--412",
journal = "Journal of Fluid Mechanics",
issn = "0022-1120",
publisher = "Cambridge University Press",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Tropical cyclogenesis and vertical shear in a moist Boussinesq model

AU - Deng, Qiang

AU - Smith, Leslie

AU - Majda, Andrew

PY - 2012/9/10

Y1 - 2012/9/10

N2 - Tropical cyclogenesis is studied in the context of idealized three-dimensional Boussinesq dynamics with perhaps the simplest possible model for bulk cloud physics. With low-altitude input of water vapour on realistic length and time scales, numerical simulations capture the formation of vortical hot towers. From measurements of water vapour, vertical velocity, vertical vorticity and rain, it is demonstrated that the structure, strength and lifetime of the hot towers are similar to results from models including more detailed cloud microphysics. The effects of low-altitude vertical shear are investigated by varying the initial zonal velocity profile. In the presence of weak low-level vertical shear, the hot towers retain the low-altitude monopole cyclonic structure characteristic of the zero-shear case (starting from zero velocity). Some initial velocity profiles with small vertical shear can have the effect of increasing cyclonic predominance of individual hot towers in a statistical sense, as measured by the skewness of vertical vorticity. Convergence of horizontal winds in the atmospheric boundary layer is mimicked by increasing the frequency of the moisture forcing in a horizontal subdomain. When the moisture forcing is turned off, and again for zero shear or weak low-level shear, merger of cyclonic activity results in the formation of a larger-scale cyclonic vortex. An effect of the shear is to limit the vertical extent of the resulting emergent moist vortex. For stronger low-altitude vertical shear, the individual hot towers have a low-altitude vorticity dipole rather than a cyclonic monopole. The dipoles are not conducive to the formation of larger-scale vortices, and thus sufficiently strong low-level shear prevents the vortical-hot-tower route to cyclogenesis. The results indicate that the simplest condensation and evaporation schemes are useful for exploratory numerical simulations aimed at better understanding of competing effects such as low-level moisture and vertical shear.

AB - Tropical cyclogenesis is studied in the context of idealized three-dimensional Boussinesq dynamics with perhaps the simplest possible model for bulk cloud physics. With low-altitude input of water vapour on realistic length and time scales, numerical simulations capture the formation of vortical hot towers. From measurements of water vapour, vertical velocity, vertical vorticity and rain, it is demonstrated that the structure, strength and lifetime of the hot towers are similar to results from models including more detailed cloud microphysics. The effects of low-altitude vertical shear are investigated by varying the initial zonal velocity profile. In the presence of weak low-level vertical shear, the hot towers retain the low-altitude monopole cyclonic structure characteristic of the zero-shear case (starting from zero velocity). Some initial velocity profiles with small vertical shear can have the effect of increasing cyclonic predominance of individual hot towers in a statistical sense, as measured by the skewness of vertical vorticity. Convergence of horizontal winds in the atmospheric boundary layer is mimicked by increasing the frequency of the moisture forcing in a horizontal subdomain. When the moisture forcing is turned off, and again for zero shear or weak low-level shear, merger of cyclonic activity results in the formation of a larger-scale cyclonic vortex. An effect of the shear is to limit the vertical extent of the resulting emergent moist vortex. For stronger low-altitude vertical shear, the individual hot towers have a low-altitude vorticity dipole rather than a cyclonic monopole. The dipoles are not conducive to the formation of larger-scale vortices, and thus sufficiently strong low-level shear prevents the vortical-hot-tower route to cyclogenesis. The results indicate that the simplest condensation and evaporation schemes are useful for exploratory numerical simulations aimed at better understanding of competing effects such as low-level moisture and vertical shear.

KW - atmospheric flows

KW - moist convection

KW - stratified flows

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84871485903&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84871485903&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1017/jfm.2012.260

DO - 10.1017/jfm.2012.260

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84871485903

VL - 706

SP - 384

EP - 412

JO - Journal of Fluid Mechanics

JF - Journal of Fluid Mechanics

SN - 0022-1120

ER -