Hurricane Joaquin

Tropical cyclones are heat engines fuelled by latent heat flux from tropical oceans to the atmosphere. The circulation structure of a fully developed tropical cyclone is highly organised. The structure extends to the top of the troposphere (where heat energy is radiated away to space). For this reason, vertical wind shear (associated with high winds aloft or jet streams) inhibits the formation of these storms or disrupts one that is already in place.

The video shows the evolution of the deadly category 4 Hurricane Joaquin. Isobars are shown on a background  of 250mb wind speeds (i.e. near top of troposphere). Joaquin develops from a tropical Atlantic depression North-East of the Bahamas on 28 September. It is evident the hurricane intensified in a region of low wind shear.

250mb wind speed

data: http://www.ftp.ncep.noaa.gov/data/nccf/com/gfs/prod/

data handling/graphics: wgrib2, R, ggplot2, ffmpeg

hurricane physics: Kerry Emmanuel

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