Coherent Turbulence in the Boundary Layer of Hurricane Rita (2005) during an Eyewall Replacement Cycle
Links to Fileshttps://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JAS-D-17-0347.1
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Type of Work23 pages
journal articles postprints
Citation of Original PublicationStephen R. Guimond, Jun A. Zhang, Joseph W. Sapp, Stephen J. Frasier, Coherent Turbulence in the Boundary Layer of Hurricane Rita (2005) during an Eyewall Replacement Cycle, Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 2018, Volume 75
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The structure of coherent turbulence in an eyewall replacement cycle in Hurricane Rita (2005) is presented from novel airborne Doppler radar observations using the Imaging Wind and Rain Airborne Profiler (IWRAP). The IWRAP measurements and three-dimensional (3D) wind vector calculations at a grid spacing of 250 m in the horizontal and 30 m in the vertical reveal the ubiquitous presence of organized turbulent eddies in the lower levels of the storm. The data presented here, and the larger collection of IWRAP measurements, currently are the highest-resolution Doppler radar 3D wind vectors ever obtained in a hurricane over the open ocean. Coincident data from NOAA airborne radars, the Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer, and flight-level data help to place the IWRAP observations into context and provide independent validation. The typical characteristics of the turbulent eddies are the following: radial wavelengths of ~1–3 km (mean value is ~2 km), depths from the ocean surface up to flight level (~1.5 km), aspect ratio of ~1.3, and horizontal wind speed perturbations of 10–20 m s−1. The most intense eddy activity is located on the inner edge of the outer eyewall during the concentric eyewall stage with a shift to the inner eyewall during the merging stage. The evolving structure of the vertical wind shear is connected to this shift and together these characteristics have several similarities to boundary layer roll vortices. However, eddy momentum flux analysis reveals that high-momentum air is being transported upward, in contrast with roll vortices, with large positive values (~150 m2 s−2) found in the turbulent filaments. In the decaying inner eyewall, elevated tangential momentum is also being transported radially outward to the intensifying outer eyewall. These results indicate that the eddies may have connections to potential vorticity waves with possible modifications due to boundary layer shear instabilities.