The Hurricane Embryo

Kerry Emanuel
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences

Although the physics of mature hurricanes are fairly well understood, their genesis remains enigmatic. They can be shown to be finite amplitude instabilities, arising from a subcritical bifurcation of the radiative-convective equilibrium state of the Tropics. In this talk, I will suggest that the establishment of a mesoscale (~100 km in diameter) column of nearly saturated air extending through the troposphere is a necessary and perhaps sufficient condition for tropical cyclogenesis, and that such a development strongly suggests that generating systems must pass through a phase in which a cold-core cyclone exists at mid and upper levels of the troposphere.

Audio (MP3 File, Podcast Ready)

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