Lorsolo, S., F.D. Marks, J.F. Gamache, and J.A. Zhang. Estimation and mapping of hurricane turbulent energy using airborne Doppler measurements. Monthly Weather Review, 138(9):3656-3670, doi:10.1175/2010MWR3183.1 2010 FY2010

Abstract: Hurricane turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) was computed using airborne Doppler measurements from the NOAA WP-3D tail radars and TKE data were retrieved for a variety of storms at different stages of their lifecycle. The geometry of the radar analysis coupled with the relatively small beam resolution at ranges <8 km allowed for the estimation of sub-kilometer turbulent processes. Two dimensional profiles of TKE were constructed and revealed that the strongest turbulence was in general located in convective regions such as the eyewall with magnitude often exceeding 15 m2 s-2, and in the boundary layer with values of 5-10 m2 s-2 in the lowest km. A correlation analysis showed that the strong turbulence was in general associated with strong horizontal shear of vertical and radial wind components in the eyewall and strong vertical shear of horizontal wind in the boundary layer. Mean vertical profiles of TKE decrease sharply above the hurricane boundary layer and level off at low magnitude for all regions outside the radius of maximum wind. The quality of the retrieval method was evaluated and showed very good agreement with TKE values directly calculated from the three-dimensional wind components of in-situ measurements. The method presented here provides a unique opportunity to assess hurricane turbulence throughout the storm, especially in high wind regions, and can be applied on extensive data sets of past and future airborne hurricane penetrations.


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