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The moisture budget of tropical cyclones in HighResMIP models: large-scale environmental balance and sensitivity to horizontal resolution

Vanniere, B. ORCID:, Roberts, M. J., Vidale, P. L., Hodges, K., Demory, M.-E., Caron, L.-P., Scoccimarro, E., Terray, L. and Senan, R. (2020) The moisture budget of tropical cyclones in HighResMIP models: large-scale environmental balance and sensitivity to horizontal resolution. Journal of Climate. ISSN 1520-0442

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0999.1


Previous studies have shown that the number, intensity, and structure of simulated tropical cyclones (TCs) in climate models get closer to the observations as the horizontal resolution is increased. However, the sensitivity of tropical cyclone precipitation and moisture budget to changes in resolution has received less attention. In this study, we use the five-model ensemble from project PRIMAVERA/HighResMIP to investigate the systematic changes of the water budget of tropical cyclones in a range of horizontal resolutions from 1° to 0.25°. Our results show that, despite a large change in the distribution of TC intensity with resolution, the distribution of precipitation per TC (i.e., averaged in a 5° radial cap) does not change significantly. This result is explained by the fact that low- and high-resolution models represent equally well the large-scale balance that characterizes the moisture budget of TCs, with the radius of the moisture source extending to ~15° from the center of the TC (i.e. well beyond the TC edge). The wind profile is found to converge in the low and high resolutions for radii > 5°, resulting in a moisture flux convergence into the TC of similar magnitude at low and high resolutions. In contrast to precipitation per TC, TC intensity does increase at higher resolution and this is explained by the larger surface latent heat flux near the center of the storm, which leads to an increase in equivalent potential temperature and warmer core anomalies, although this extra latent heat represents a negligible contribution to the overall moisture budget. We discuss the complication arising from the choice of the tracking algorithm when assessing the impact of model resolution.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:92722
Publisher:American Meteorological Society


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