An experimental study on hurricane mesovortices

Michael T. Montgomery, Vladimir A. Vladimirov, Petr V. Denissenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

73 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Mesovortices in the eyewall region of a hurricane are intriguing elements of the hurricane engine. In-situ measurements of them are sparse, however, and our understanding of their overall role in the physics of a hurricane is incomplete. To further understand their dynamics an experimental apparatus using a homogeneous fluid (water) has been constructed to emulate the lower tropospheric flow of the hurricane eye/eyewall region. For experimental configurations possessing a central aspect ratio less than unity, a primary and secondary circulation similar to the inflow layer of an intense hurricane, and a similar radius-to-width ratio of the curvilinear shear layer bordering the eye and eyewall region, the flow supports two primary quasi-steady vortices and secondary intermittent vortices. The vortices form through Kelvin-Helmholtz instability of the curvilinear shear layer bordering the slowly upwelling fluid in the centre and the converging fluid from the periphery. The primary vortices are maintained by convergence of circulation from the periphery and merger of secondary vortices spawned along the shear layer. The horizontal flow field in measured using a particle image velocimeter. Despite the relatively strong secondary circulation through the parent vortex the horizontal flow is found to be approximately uniform in the direction parallel to the rotation axis. The peak tangential velocity is found to occur in the mesovortices and is roughly 50% greater than the parent vortex that supports them. The measurements provide insight into recent observations of excessive wind damage in landfalling storms and support the hypothesis that intense storms contain coherent vortex structures in the eyewall region with higher horizontal wind speeds locally than the parent hurricane.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Volume471
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 25 2002

Fingerprint

hurricanes
Hurricanes
Vortex flow
vortices
shear layers
Fluids
fluids
Velocimeters
Kelvin-Helmholtz instability
upwelling water
in situ measurement
engines
aspect ratio
Aspect ratio
unity
Flow fields
flow distribution
Physics
Engines
damage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering

Cite this

An experimental study on hurricane mesovortices. / Montgomery, Michael T.; Vladimirov, Vladimir A.; Denissenko, Petr V.

In: Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 471, 25.11.2002, p. 1-32.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Montgomery, Michael T. ; Vladimirov, Vladimir A. ; Denissenko, Petr V. / An experimental study on hurricane mesovortices. In: Journal of Fluid Mechanics. 2002 ; Vol. 471. pp. 1-32.
@article{bd13c92f2cc14f8eb63e4e6c40d0f3f8,
title = "An experimental study on hurricane mesovortices",
abstract = "Mesovortices in the eyewall region of a hurricane are intriguing elements of the hurricane engine. In-situ measurements of them are sparse, however, and our understanding of their overall role in the physics of a hurricane is incomplete. To further understand their dynamics an experimental apparatus using a homogeneous fluid (water) has been constructed to emulate the lower tropospheric flow of the hurricane eye/eyewall region. For experimental configurations possessing a central aspect ratio less than unity, a primary and secondary circulation similar to the inflow layer of an intense hurricane, and a similar radius-to-width ratio of the curvilinear shear layer bordering the eye and eyewall region, the flow supports two primary quasi-steady vortices and secondary intermittent vortices. The vortices form through Kelvin-Helmholtz instability of the curvilinear shear layer bordering the slowly upwelling fluid in the centre and the converging fluid from the periphery. The primary vortices are maintained by convergence of circulation from the periphery and merger of secondary vortices spawned along the shear layer. The horizontal flow field in measured using a particle image velocimeter. Despite the relatively strong secondary circulation through the parent vortex the horizontal flow is found to be approximately uniform in the direction parallel to the rotation axis. The peak tangential velocity is found to occur in the mesovortices and is roughly 50{\%} greater than the parent vortex that supports them. The measurements provide insight into recent observations of excessive wind damage in landfalling storms and support the hypothesis that intense storms contain coherent vortex structures in the eyewall region with higher horizontal wind speeds locally than the parent hurricane.",
author = "Montgomery, {Michael T.} and Vladimirov, {Vladimir A.} and Denissenko, {Petr V.}",
year = "2002",
month = "11",
day = "25",
doi = "10.1017/S0022112002001647",
language = "English",
volume = "471",
pages = "1--32",
journal = "Journal of Fluid Mechanics",
issn = "0022-1120",
publisher = "Cambridge University Press",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - An experimental study on hurricane mesovortices

AU - Montgomery, Michael T.

AU - Vladimirov, Vladimir A.

AU - Denissenko, Petr V.

PY - 2002/11/25

Y1 - 2002/11/25

N2 - Mesovortices in the eyewall region of a hurricane are intriguing elements of the hurricane engine. In-situ measurements of them are sparse, however, and our understanding of their overall role in the physics of a hurricane is incomplete. To further understand their dynamics an experimental apparatus using a homogeneous fluid (water) has been constructed to emulate the lower tropospheric flow of the hurricane eye/eyewall region. For experimental configurations possessing a central aspect ratio less than unity, a primary and secondary circulation similar to the inflow layer of an intense hurricane, and a similar radius-to-width ratio of the curvilinear shear layer bordering the eye and eyewall region, the flow supports two primary quasi-steady vortices and secondary intermittent vortices. The vortices form through Kelvin-Helmholtz instability of the curvilinear shear layer bordering the slowly upwelling fluid in the centre and the converging fluid from the periphery. The primary vortices are maintained by convergence of circulation from the periphery and merger of secondary vortices spawned along the shear layer. The horizontal flow field in measured using a particle image velocimeter. Despite the relatively strong secondary circulation through the parent vortex the horizontal flow is found to be approximately uniform in the direction parallel to the rotation axis. The peak tangential velocity is found to occur in the mesovortices and is roughly 50% greater than the parent vortex that supports them. The measurements provide insight into recent observations of excessive wind damage in landfalling storms and support the hypothesis that intense storms contain coherent vortex structures in the eyewall region with higher horizontal wind speeds locally than the parent hurricane.

AB - Mesovortices in the eyewall region of a hurricane are intriguing elements of the hurricane engine. In-situ measurements of them are sparse, however, and our understanding of their overall role in the physics of a hurricane is incomplete. To further understand their dynamics an experimental apparatus using a homogeneous fluid (water) has been constructed to emulate the lower tropospheric flow of the hurricane eye/eyewall region. For experimental configurations possessing a central aspect ratio less than unity, a primary and secondary circulation similar to the inflow layer of an intense hurricane, and a similar radius-to-width ratio of the curvilinear shear layer bordering the eye and eyewall region, the flow supports two primary quasi-steady vortices and secondary intermittent vortices. The vortices form through Kelvin-Helmholtz instability of the curvilinear shear layer bordering the slowly upwelling fluid in the centre and the converging fluid from the periphery. The primary vortices are maintained by convergence of circulation from the periphery and merger of secondary vortices spawned along the shear layer. The horizontal flow field in measured using a particle image velocimeter. Despite the relatively strong secondary circulation through the parent vortex the horizontal flow is found to be approximately uniform in the direction parallel to the rotation axis. The peak tangential velocity is found to occur in the mesovortices and is roughly 50% greater than the parent vortex that supports them. The measurements provide insight into recent observations of excessive wind damage in landfalling storms and support the hypothesis that intense storms contain coherent vortex structures in the eyewall region with higher horizontal wind speeds locally than the parent hurricane.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0037175681&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0037175681&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1017/S0022112002001647

DO - 10.1017/S0022112002001647

M3 - Article

VL - 471

SP - 1

EP - 32

JO - Journal of Fluid Mechanics

JF - Journal of Fluid Mechanics

SN - 0022-1120

ER -