Dry and Semidry Tropical Cyclones
Author(s)Cronin, Timothy Wallace; Chavas, Daniel R.
MetadataShow full item record
It is widely believed that tropical cyclones are an intrinsically moist phenomenon, requiring evaporation and latent heat release in cumulus convection. Recent numerical modeling by Mrowiec et al., however, challenged this conventional wisdom by finding the formation of axisymmetric dry tropical cyclones in dry radiative–convective equilibrium (RCE). This paper addresses ensuing questions about the stability of dry tropical cyclones in 3D, the moist–dry vortex transition, and whether existing theories for intensity, size, and structure apply to dry cyclones. A convection-permitting model is used to simulate rotating 3D RCE, with surface wetness (0–1) and surface temperature (240–300 K) smoothly varying between dry and moist states. Tropical cyclones spontaneously form and persist for tens of days in both moist and dry/cold states, as well as part of the relatively moist/warm intermediate parameter space. As the surface is dried or cooled, cyclones weaken, both in absolute terms and relative to their potential intensities. Dry and semidry cyclones have smaller outer radii but similar-sized or larger convective centers compared to moist cyclones, consistent with existing structural theory. Strikingly, spontaneous cyclogenesis fails to occur at moderately low surface wetness values and intermediate surface temperatures of 250–270 K. Simulations with time-varying surface moisture and sea surface temperatures indicate this range of parameter space is a barrier to spontaneous genesis but not cyclone existence. Dry and semidry tropical cyclones in rotating RCE provide a compelling model system to further our understanding of real moist tropical cyclones. ©2019 American Meteorological Society.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
American Meteorological Society
Cronin, Timothy W. and Daniel R. Chavas, "Dry and Semidry Tropical Cyclones." Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 76, 8 (July 2019): 2193-2212 doi. 10.1175/JAS-D-18-0357.1 ©2019 Authors
Final published version