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Publication Date



UM campus only

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Meteorology and Physical Oceanography (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Shuyi S. Chen

Second Committee Member

David S. Nolan

Third Committee Member

Mark A. Donelan

Fourth Committee Member

William M. Drennan

Fifth Committee Member

James F. Price

Sixth Committee Member

Frank Roux


Tropical cyclone (TC) intensity change is governed by internal dynamics (e.g. eyewall contraction, eyewall replacement cycles, interactions of the inner-core with the rainbands) and environmental conditions (e.g. vertical wind shear, moisture distribution, and surface properties). This study aims to gain a better understanding of the physical mechanisms responsible for TC intensity changes with a particular focus to those related to the vertical wind shear and surface properties by using high resolution, full physics numerical simulations. First, the effects of the vertical wind shear on a rapidly intensifying storm and its subsequent weakening are examined. Second, a fully coupled atmosphere-wave-ocean model with a sea spray parameterization is used to study the impact of sea spray on the hurricane boundary layer. The coupled model consists of three components: the high resolution, non-hydrostatic, fifth generation Pennsylvania State University-NCAR mesoscale model (MM5), the NOAA/NCEPWAVEWATCH III (WW3) ocean surface wave model, and theWHOI threedimensional upper ocean circulation model (3DPWP). Sea spray parameterizations were developed at NOAA/ESRL and modified by the author to be introduced in uncoupled and coupled simulations. The model simulations are conducted in both uncoupled and coupled modes to isolate various physical processes influencing TC intensity. The very high-resolutionMM5 simulation of Hurricane Lili (at 0.5 km grid resolution) showed a rapid intensification associated with a contracting eyewall. Changes in both the magnitude and the direction of the vertical wind shear associated with an approaching upper-tropospheric trough were responsible for the weakening of the storm before landfall. Hurricane Lili weakened in a 5-10 m/s vertical wind shear environment. The simulated storm experienced wind shear direction normal to the storm motion, which produced a strong wavenumber one rainfall asymmetry in the downshear-left quadrant of the storm. The rainfall asymmetry was confirmed by various observations from the TRMM satellite and the WSR-88D ground radar in the coastal region. The increasing vertical wind shear induced a vertical tilt of the vortex with a time lag of about 5-6 hours after the wavenumber one rainfall asymmetry was first observed in the model simulation. Other key factors controlling intensity and intensity change in tropical cyclones are the air-sea fluxes. Accurate measurement and parameterization of air-sea fluxes under hurricane conditions are challenging. Although recent studies have shown that the momentum exchange coefficient levels off at high wind speed, little is known about the high wind behavior of the exchange coefficient for enthalpy flux. One of the largest uncertainties is the potential impact of sea spray. The current sea spray parameterizations are closely tied to wind speed and tend to overestimate the mediated heat fluxes by sea spray in the hurricane boundary layer. The sea spray generation depends not only on the wind speed but also on the variable wave state. A new spray parameterization based on the surface wave energy dissipation is introduced in the coupled model. In the coupled simulations, the wave energy dissipation is used to quantify the amount of wave breaking related to the generation of sea spray. The spray parameterization coupled to the waves may be an improvement compared to sea spray parameterizations that depends on wind speed only.


Sea Spray; Air-sea Interactions; Tropical Cyclone