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Maue, R. N. (2004). Evolution of Frontal Structure Associated with Extratropical Transitioning Hurricanes. Master's thesis, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.
Abstract: Many tropical cyclones move poleward, encounter vertical shear associated with the midlatitude circulation, and undergo a process called extratropical transition (ET). One of the many factors affecting the post-transition extratropical storm in terms of reintensification, frontal structure, and overall evolution is the upper-level flow pattern. Schultz et al. (1998) categorized extratropical cyclones according to two of the many possible cyclone paradigms in terms of the upper-level trough configuration: The Norwegian cyclone model (Bjerknes and Solberg 1922) associated with high-amplitude diffluent trough flow and the Shapiro-Keyser cyclone lifecycle (1990) with low-amplitude confluent troughs. Broadly speaking, the former category is associated with a strong, meridionally oriented cold front with a weak warm front while the latter lifecycle usually entails a prominent, zonally oriented warm front. However, as will be shown, simple antipode lifecycle definitions fail to capture hybrid or cross-lifecycle evolution of transitioned tropical cyclones. To exemplify the importance upper-level features such as jet streaks and troughs, a potential vorticity framework is coupled with vector frontogenesis functions to diagnose the interaction between the poleward transitioning cyclone and the midlatitude circulation. Particular focus is concentrated upon the evolution and strength of frontal fracture from both a PV and frontogenesis viewpoint. The final outcome of extratropical transition is highly variable depending on characteristics of the tropical cyclone, SSTs, and environmental factors such as strength of vertical shear. Here, three storms (Irene 1999, Fabian 2003, and Kate 2003) typify the inherent variability of one such ET outcome, warm seclusion. Very strong winds are often observed in excess of 50 ms-1 along the southwestern flank of the storm down the bent-back warm front. The low-level wind field kinematics are examined using vector frontogenesis functions and QuikSCAT winds. A complex empirical orthogonal function (CEOF) technique is adapted to temporally interpolate ECMWF model fields (T, MSLP) to overpass times of the scatterometer, an improvement over simple linear interpolation. Overall, the above diagnosis is used to support a hypothesis concerning the prevalence of hurricane-force winds surrounding secluded systems.