Diagnosing tropical cyclone intensity variations from the surface wind field evolution

Tropical cyclone (TC) intensity fluctuations remain a challenge for TC forecasters. Occurring through a wide range of processes, such as vortex contraction, eyewall replacements, or emission of vortex Rossby waves, they are in-herently multiscale, transient, and asymmetric. In a recent study, estimates of surface wind field inner-core properties from high-resolution satellite observations were spotted as valuable for the improvement of intensity variations statistical pre-dictability. The present study evaluates how the temporal evolution of the vortex structure, at scales ranging from O(1) km to vortexwide, further provides insights on the modulation of intensity. The study is based on a set of seven realistic TC simulations with 1-km grid spacing. The surface wind field structure is studied through an original set of descriptors that characterize the radial profile, the azimuthal asymmetries, and their spectral distribution. While radial gradients evolve concurrently with intensity, the azimuthal variability of the inner core shows a stronger connection with shorter-scale inten-sity modulation. The increase of high-wavenumber asymmetries distributed around the ring of maximum winds is shown to precede phases of rapid (re)intensification by 5-6 h, while the concentration of asymmetry in wavenumbers 1 and 2 leads to intensity weakening. A machine learning classification finally highlights that the classification of intensification phases (i.e., intensification or weakening) can be improved by at least 11% (thus reaching ;75%) when accounting for the evolu-tion of the radial wind gradient and the variance distribution among scales in the ring of maximum wind, relative to the sole use of vortex-averaged parameters. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: The purpose of this study is to relate changes in the surface wind field structure of tropical cyclones to their intensity variations. We design an original set of parameters to characterize the inner-and near-core contraction and asymmetry, and evaluate their connection with TC intensity modulations in a set of realistic high-resolution numerical simulations. The main outcome of our study is that opposite trends in high-and low-wavenumber variance tend to occur prior to intensity changes on short time scales, with more widespread and local-scale asymmetry corresponding to intensification, and vortex-scale polarized asymmetry corresponding to weakening. These diagnoses are shown to improve the classification of intensification and weakening phases. These results advocate for enhancing real-time high-resolution observations of surface wind fields under TCs, and using asymmetry distribution as predictors in statistical forecast models.


Asymmetry, Intensification, Tropical cyclones, Model output statistics, Regional models, Classification

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Vinour Leo, Jullien Swen, Mouche Alexis (2023). Diagnosing tropical cyclone intensity variations from the surface wind field evolution. Journal Of The Atmospheric Sciences. 80 (10). 2459-2479. https://doi.org/10.1175/JAS-D-22-0208.1, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00847/95879/

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