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A global spatiotemporal analysis of inland tropical cyclone maintenance or intensification

Authors

  • Theresa K. Andersen,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Geography/Atmospheric Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
    • Correspondence to: T. K. Andersen, Department of Geography/Atmospheric Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA. E-mail: tkande@uga.edu

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  • J. Marshall Shepherd

    1. Department of Geography/Atmospheric Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
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ABSTRACT

Forecasting tropical cyclone (TC) intensity changes over land is complicated by interactions of various surface and atmospheric features. Due to generally unfavorable conditions, many TCs weaken and decay soon after landfall. In some cases, TCs may also transition to extratropical cyclones (ETs). Despite the absence of oceanic forcing, a number of TCs have been observed to maintain or increase strength inland, termed “tropical cyclone maintenance or intensification’ (TCMIs). This study identifies the environments and characteristic features of TCMIs and explores physical processes that may help to produce an atmosphere conducive for tropical systems. The objectives are to compile an inland TC dataset over a 30-year period, quantify TC traits that may relate to maximum strength over land, and analyse surface and atmospheric conditions leading up to intensification. Of 227 inland TCs globally, 45 maintained or increased strength inland: 17 cold-core (ET), 16 warm-core (TCMI), and 12 hybrid cases. Analysis of synoptic conditions indicates that TCs persist when low-level temperature gradients are weak. Soil moisture gradients were in the vicinity of the cyclones at the time of intensification and may be forcing the TCMIs via increased surface latent heat flux (LHF). The area-averaged LHF threshold is found to be around 70 W m−2 for TCMI occurrence. In the 2 weeks leading up to each TCMI, the LHF tends to be higher than average over the intensification regions and provides further evidence of land surface forcing.

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