Boundary Layer Dynamical Structure During Secondary Eyewall Formation

Monday, 15 December 2014: 12:05 PM
Sergio Federico Abarca1, Michael t Montgomery2 and James C McWilliams1, (1)University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States, (2)Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, United States
Secondary eyewall formation (SEF) is widely recognized as an important research problem in the dynamics of mature tropical cyclones. It has been shown that the development of the wind maxima in SEF occurs within the boundary layer and that it follows a chain of events initiated by a substantial radial expansion of the tangential wind field. In this context, there is not yet a consensus on the phenomenon’s essential physics. It has been proposed that the boundary-layer dynamics of a maturing hurricane vortex is an important controlling element in SEF. However, recent literature also argues that hurricane boundary layers and the related coupling with the interior flow can be described through an Ekman-like balance and that shock-like structures are relevant in the swirling boundary layer of the inner core of mature storms.

We analyze the radial and vertical structure of the specific forces and accelerations in in the boundary layer in a mature hurricane that includes a canonical eyewall replacement cycle. The case occurred in a mesoscale, convection-permitting numerical simulation of a tropical cyclone, integrated from an initial weak mesoscale vortex in an idealized quiescent environment. The simulation has been studied extensively in the literature. We find that momentum advection is almost everywhere important (some of it is associated with asymmetric eddies). We discuss the implication of our findings on the proposed importance of Ekman-like balance dynamics during SEF. Finally, our analysis does not support the recently proposed idea that the radial advection of radial momentum, and shock-like structures, are closely related to the supergradient wind phenomena observed during SEF.