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Title: The low-level wind structure of tropical cyclones
Author: Wang, Shuai
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 6878
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2017
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The main effects of tropical cyclones include high winds, extensive storm surges, and widespread flooding. These main effects are all closely related to the low-level wind structure, the height of which is about 2 km from the underlying surface. A physically based analytic model (λ model) is presented to describe the low-level wind structure of tropical cyclones in terms of one intensity measure, one size measure, and the storm meridional position. The λ model provides an accurate fit of the near-surface azimuthal wind field simulated with an idealized full-physics numerical model. This numerical model is further applied to investigate the tropical cyclone low-level wind structure evolution during the mature stage with observations. Three basic features at the mature stage are observed: the outward expansion of eyewall, the reduction of intensity and the increase of tangential wind in the outer spiral bands. Model simulations show that the outer circulation expansion is accompanied by the outward migration of diabatic heating at mid-level in the eyewall. The outward movement of eyewall is caused by the opposing angular momentum transports. Consequently, the intensity decays due to the angular momentum conservation and cyclostrophic adjustment, which is captured in a new analytic pressure-wind relationship derived from the λ model. To investigate the relationship between the tropical cyclone damage and low-level wind structure, the λ model is used to reconstruct the historical wind structure of hurricanes that allows us, for the first time, to calculate the correlation of damage with the integrated wind profile of all hurricanes at landfall since 1988. We find that those metrics, which include the horizontal wind structure, rather than just maximum intensity, are better correlated with the hurricane cost. The vertical wind shear over the main development region of hurricanes plays a more dominant role than the sea surface temperature in controlling these metrics and therefore also ultimately the cost of hurricanes.
Supervisor: Toumi, Ralf Sponsor: China Scholarship Council ; Imperial College London
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral