Simulated sensitivity of tropical cyclone size and structure to the atmospheric temperature profile

Diana R. Stovern, Elizabeth A. Ritchie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This study uses the WRF ARW to investigate how different atmospheric temperature environments impact the size and structure development of a simulated tropical cyclone (TC). In each simulation, the entire vertical virtual temperature profile is either warmed or cooled in 1°C increments from an initial specified state while the initial relative humidity profile and sea surface temperature are held constant. This alters the initial amount of convective available potential energy (CAPE), specific humidity, and air-sea temperature difference such that, when the simulated atmosphere is cooled (warmed), the initial specific humidity and CAPE decrease (increase), but the surface energy fluxes from the ocean increase (decrease). It is found that the TCs that form in an initially cooler environment develop larger wind and precipitation fields with more active outer-core rainband formation. Consistent with previous studies, outer-core rainband formation is associated with high surface energy fluxes, which leads to increases in the outer-core wind field. A larger convective field develops despite initializing in a low CAPE environment, and the dynamics are linked to a wider field of surface radial inflow. As the TC matures and radial inflow expands, large imports of relative angular momentum in the boundary layer continue to drive expansion of the TC's overall size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4553-4571
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2016


  • Air-sea interaction
  • Angular momentum
  • CAPE
  • Hurricanes/typhoons
  • Mesoscale processes
  • Storm environments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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