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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 15, issue 24
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 15, 14041–14053, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-15-14041-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 15, 14041–14053, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-15-14041-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 21 Dec 2015

Research article | 21 Dec 2015

Impact of environmental moisture on tropical cyclone intensification

L. Wu1,2, H. Su1, R. G. Fovell3, T. J. Dunkerton4, Z. Wang5, and B. H. Kahn1 L. Wu et al.
  • 1Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA
  • 2Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  • 3University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA
  • 4Northwest Research Associates, Inc., Bellevue, Washington, USA
  • 5University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA

Abstract. The impacts of environmental moisture on the intensification of a tropical cyclone (TC) are investigated in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, with a focus on the azimuthal asymmetry of the moisture impacts relative to the storm path. A series of sensitivity experiments with varying moisture perturbations in the environment are conducted and the Marsupial Paradigm framework is employed to understand the different moisture impacts. We find that modification of environmental moisture has insignificant impacts on the storm in this case unless it leads to convective activity that deforms the quasi-Lagrangian boundary of the storm and changes the moisture transport into the storm. By facilitating convection and precipitation outside the storm, enhanced environmental moisture ahead of the northwestward-moving storm induces a dry air intrusion to the inner core and limits TC intensification. In contrast, increased moisture in the rear quadrants favors intensification by providing more moisture to the inner core and promoting storm symmetry, with primary contributions coming from moisture increase in the boundary layer. The different impacts of environmental moisture on TC intensification are governed by the relative locations of moisture perturbations and their interactions with the storm Lagrangian structure.

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