Interactions between simulated tropical cyclones and an environment with a variable coriolis parameter

Elizabeth A. Ritchie, William M. Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Numerical simulations of tropical cyclones are performed to examine the effects of a variable Coriolis parameter on the structure and intensity of hurricanes. The simulations are performed using the nonhydrostatic fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University-National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model using a 5-km fine mesh and fully explicit representation of moist processes. When a variable Conolis parameter (f) environment is applied to a mature tropical cyclone, a persistent north-northwesterly shear develops over the storm center as a result of an interaction between the primary circulation of the storm and the gradient in absolute vorticity. As a result, the variable-f storm quickly develops a persistent wavenumber-1 asymmetry in its inner-core structure with upward motion and rainfall concentrated on the left side of the shear looking downshear, in agreement with earlier studies. In comparison, the constant-f storm develops weak transient asymmetries in structure that are only partially related to a weak vertical wind shear. As a result, it is found that the tropical cyclone with variable f intensifies slightly more slowly than that with constant f, and reaches a final intensity that is about 5 mb weaker. It is argued that this "beta shear" is not adequately represented in large-scale analyses and so does not figure into calculations of environmental shear. Although the effect of the beta shear on the tropical cyclone intensity seems small by itself, when combined with the environmental shear it can produce a large net shear or it can reduce an environmental shear below the apparent threshold to impact storm intensity. If this result proves to be generally true, then the presence of an additional overlooked beta shear may well explain differences in the response of tropical cyclone intensification to westerly versus easterly shear regimes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1889-1905
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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