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Carstens, J. (2019). Tropical Cyclogenesis from Self-aggregated Convection in Numerical Simulations of Rotating Radiative-convective Equilibrium. Florida State University - FCLA; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global.
Abstract: Organized convection is of critical importance in the tropical atmosphere. Recent advances in numerical modeling have revealed that moist convection can interact with its environment to transition from a quasi-random to organized state. This phenomenon, known as convective self-aggregation,is aided by feedbacks involving clouds, water vapor, and radiation that increase the spatial variance of column-integrated frozen moist static energy. Prior studies have shown self-aggregation to takeseveral different forms, including that of spontaneous tropical cyclogenesis in an environment of rotating radiative-convective equilibrium (RCE). This study expands upon previous work to address the processes leading to tropical cyclogenesis in this rotating RCE framework. More specifically,a three-dimensional, cloud-resolving numerical model is used to examine the self-aggregation of convection and potential cyclogenesis, and the background planetary vorticity is varied on an f-plane across simulations to represent a range of deep tropical and near-equatorial environments.Convection is initialized randomly in an otherwise homogeneous environment, with no background wind, precursor disturbance, or other synoptic-scale forcing.All simulations with planetary vorticity corresponding to latitudes from 10°to 20°generate intense tropical cyclones, with maximum wind speeds of 80 m s−1or above. Time to genesis varies widely, even within a five-member ensemble of 20°simulations, reflecting a potential degree of stochastic variability based in part on the initial random distribution of convection. Shared across this so-called “high-f” group is the emergence of a midlevel vortex in the days leading to genesis,which has dynamic and thermodynamic implications on its environment that facilitate the spinup of a low-level vortex. Tropical cyclogenesis is possible in this model even at values of Coriolis parameter as low as that representative of 1°. In these experiments, convection self-aggregates into a quasi-circular cluster, which then begins to rotate and gradually strengthen into a tropical storm, aided by near-surface inflow and shallow overturning radial circulations aloft within the aggregated cluster. Other experiments at these lower Coriolis parameters instead self-aggregate into an elongated band and fail to undergo cyclogenesis over the 100-day simulation. A large portion of this study is devoted to examining in greater detail the dynamic and thermodynamic evolution of cyclogenesis in these experiments and comparing the physical mechanisms to current theories.