EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Air-sea Interface Exchanges in Rapidly Intensifying Tropical Cyclones

Alexander Soloviev1, Breanna Vanderplow1, and Roger Lukas2
Alexander Soloviev et al.
  • 1Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography, Nova Southeastern University, Dania Beach, Florida, United States of America (
  • 2Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America

Rapid intensification of tropical cyclones is a challenge for forecasters. In 2017, Hurricane Maria intensified to a Category 5 storm within 24 hours and devastated Puerto Rico. The official forecast and all computer models were unable to predict it. Hurricane Dorian had been predicted as a tropical storm; unexpectedly, it intensified into a Category 5 storm and destroyed the Bahamas. Soloviev et al. (2017) suggested that under the assumption of constant enthalpy exchange coefficient, rapid cyclone intensification and decay can be related to the drag coefficient dependence on wind speed including an “aerodynamic drag well” around 60 m/s. This concept is in general terms consistent with Emanuel’s (1988) theory of maximum potential intensity of a tropical cyclone and its extension by Lee et al. (2019). The influence of sea spray is still a significant uncertainty. In order to study the effect of spray on dynamics of tropical cyclones, we have implemented a Volume of Fluid to Discrete-Phase Model (VOF to DPM). This model re-meshes the areas with increased gradients or curvature, which are suspicious for the interface instability. The generated water particles that satisfy the condition of asphericity are converted into Lagrangian particles. The size distribution of spray measured in air-sea interaction facilities is used for the model verification. Due to dynamic remeshing, VOF to DPM resolves spray particle radius from ten micrometers to a few millimeters, which correspond to spume. Results of the numerical simulation show a dramatic increase of spume generation under major tropical cyclones. Though sub-micrometer and micrometer scale spray particles are not resolved in this simulation, they are likely less significant in the momentum exchange at the air-sea interface than spume. These results are expected to contribute to the parameterization and proper treatment of spray in forecasting models, including cases of rapid intensification and rapid decline of tropical cyclones.
Emanuel, K. A. (1988). The maximum intensity of hurricanes. JAS 45, 1143–1155.
Soloviev, A. V., Lukas, R., Donelan, M.A., Haus, B. K., Ginis, I. (2017). Is the state of the air-sea interface a factor in rapid intensification and rapid decline of tropical cyclones? JGR - Oceans 122, 10174-10183.
Lee, W., Kim, S.‐H., Chu, P.‐S., Moon,I.‐J., and Soloviev, A. V. (2019). An index to better estimate tropical cyclone intensity change in the western North Pacific. GRL 46, 8960-8968.

How to cite: Soloviev, A., Vanderplow, B., and Lukas, R.: Air-sea Interface Exchanges in Rapidly Intensifying Tropical Cyclones, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-12109,, 2020.


Display file