Related Research Areas

This proposal lays out a course of research to improve our understanding of hurricane development and intensity through the examination of two complementary science problems focusing on the fuel (moisture) supply or lack thereof to the hurricane heat engine. The “fuel” and “anti-fuel” problems outlined here and the research methodologies proposed herein represent a quantum leap forward for addressing many of the hurricane science objectives of this NASA announcement. Our research has demonstrated the multi-scale nature of the hurricane intensification and maximum intensity problems. In three dimensions, the vertically deep, but horizontally small-scale, mesovortices or vortical hot towers (VHTs) dominate the rapid intensification process. Of course, the boundary layer supplies fuel to the VHTs and also provides critical constraints on the evolution of the azimuthal mean vortex. Therefore, if we are to make progress on developing a deeper understanding of hurricane maximum intensity and rapid intensification we must learn more about the real boundary layer structure of an intensifying or weakening hurricane vortex. The program outlined here will make use of field data from CAMEX-3/4, TCSP and NAMMA field campaigns, and the possible 2010 NASA field campaign. The latter may occur in conjunction with a proposed 2010 NSF collaborative field campaign led by the P.I., called PREDICT (PRE-Depression Investigation of Cloud-systems in the Tropics), which is a focused observational field campaign (with planned NOAA/HRD collaboration as part of the NOAA/IFEX) examining the subsynoptic- and mesoscale processes operating within the “marsupial wave pouch” that contribute to the formation of tropical depressions in the Atlantic basin. Being an outgrowth of the marsupial paradigm, the “fuel” and “anti-fuel” problems presented here naturally call for coupling satellite and global model analyses to explore interactions between tropical cyclones and their environment (including the SAL), and for linking the hurricane boundary layer with the convective VHT scales. We believe that this research program will enable breakthroughs in our understanding of tropical cyclone genesis, intensification, and weakening episodes as well as the role of the SAL for Atlantic tropical cyclones, some of which become hurricanes that threaten populated areas, particularly the Eastern and Gulf coast states in the United States.

Project PI: Michael Montgomery/Naval Postgraduate School

Department of Meteorology Graduate School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Monterey, CA 93943

Phone: (831)656-2296



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Started: Aug 10, 2010

Last Activity: Dec 15, 2010


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