A balanced tropical cyclone test case for AGCMs with background vertical wind shear

Fei He, Derek J. Posselt, Colin M. Zarzycki, Christiane Jablonowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This paper presents a balanced tropical cyclone (TC) test case designed to improve current understanding of how atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) configurations affect simulated TC development and behavior. It consists of an analytic initial condition comprising two independently balanced components. The first provides a vortical TC seed, while the second adds a planetary-scale zonal flow with height-dependent velocity and imposes background vertical wind shear (VWS) on the TC seed. The environmental flow satisfies the steady-state hydrostatic primitive equations in spherical coordinates and is in balance with other background field variables (e.g., temperature, surface geopotential). The evolution of idealized TCs in the test case framework is illustrated in 10-day simulations performed with the Community Atmosphere Model, version 5.1.1 (CAM 5.1.1). Environmental wind profiles with different magnitudes, directions, and vertical inflection points are applied to ensure that the technique is robust to changes in the VWS characteristics. The well-known shear-induced intensity change and structural asymmetry in tropical cyclones are well captured. Sensitivity of TC evolution to small perturbations in the initial vortex is also quantitatively addressed to validate the numerical robustness of the technique. It is concluded that the enhanced TC test case can be used to evaluate the impact of model choice (e.g., resolution, physical parameterizations) on the simulation and representation of TC-like vortices in AGCMs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1762-1781
Number of pages20
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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