On the Structure of Hurricanes as Revealed by Research Aircraft Data

  • R. C. Sheets
Part of the Topics in Atmospheric and Oceanographic Sciences book series (TATM)


Research aircraft have been probing the inner core of tropical cyclones on a regular basis for more than two decades. Most of what we know today about the detailed internal structure and dynamics of these storms has resulted from studies based upon data collected from these airborne instrumented platforms. Noteworthy among earlier studies are those by Riehl and Malkus (1961) and LaSeur and Hawkins (1963). Riehl and Malkus used data collected in Hurricane Daisy (1958) to try to deduce the thermal and dynamical characteristics of a developing and mature storm. LaSeur and Hawkins used multiple level data collected in Hurricane Cleo (1958) to study the three-dimensional structure of a mature hurricane. Later, Hawkins and Rubsam (1968) conducted a detailed diagnostic study of Hurricane Hilda (1964), computing many of the same quantities as those computed by Riehl and Malkus in their 1961 study. Although, in general, findings were similar, significant differences between the two studies appeared, such as the depth of the inflow layer and the role of local generation as compared to advection for increases in the kinetic energy in the inner core of the hurricane. Similarly, several other case studies (Colon, 1961, 1964; Sheets, 1968, 1973; Hawkins and Imbembo, 1976) have shown gross features similar to those of the early Hurricane Cleo study, but have also shown wide variations from storm to storm and even from day to day within a given storm.


Tropical Cyclone Inner Core Vertical Wind Maximum Wind Maximum Wind Speed 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1982

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  • R. C. Sheets

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