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We propose to study several aspects of convective bursts in tropical cyclones. These bursts contain intense cells reaching above 15 km with cloud-top temperatures below -80º, and often contain temporal and spatial scales equivalent to those of "supercells" in the U.S. midwest warm season. In previously funded NASA work, we showed the significance of helicity in Hurricane Bonnie (1998) in identifying the regions where such cells develop in tropical cyclones. Helicity is one of the measures of an environment favorable for severe convection. The proposed work contains three primary studies. The first extends our previous work to multiple storms in CAMEX-3 and CAMEX-4. We will test the hypothesis that intense convective bursts form in regions of large helicity. The bursts will be identified using TRMM precipitation radar and TMI 85 GHz ice scattering. The second project examines helicity distribution within easterly waves in the NAMMA experiment. We will test the idea that waves develop into tropical cyclones only when helicity is sufficiently large to support long-lasting intense cells for an extended period of time. We hypothesize that the horizontal distribution of helicity plays a significant role in determining where within an easterly wave circulation that a tropical cyclone develops. The third project is designed to measure the impact of clusters of intense convective cells in tropical cyclones, by determining their azimuthally-averaged impact on the mean tropical cyclone circulation. This idea follows the concept of "vortical hot towers" in that it argues for the upscale organization of individual cells during tropical cyclone formation. The proposed work fits subgoal 3A of NASA, and particularly 3.A.2, "Improved predictive capability for weather and extreme weather events". The proposed work also directly addresses five of the critical questions from the Hurricane Science Research Program, as will be described within.
Project PI: John Molinari/University at Albany, SUNY
DAES - ES351 University at Albany Albany , NY 12222
Phone: (518) 442-4562
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