Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Haiyan Jiang

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Hugh Willoughby

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Ping Zhu

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Wei Wang

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Tropical Cyclone Precipitation Asymmetry, Tropical Cyclone Intensity, Tropical Cyclone Intensity Change, TRMM, Rapid Intensification, Rapid Intensification Time Evolution

Date of Defense



The climatology of precipitation asymmetries in Tropical Cyclones (TCs) and their relationship to TC intensity changes using 16 years of data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite. TC Inner core precipitation asymmetries were quantified using the Fourier wavenumber decomposition method upon the pixel level data of 3,542 TRMM TMI overpasses. Composites of wavenumber–1 and wavenumber 1–6 total precipitation asymmetries were constructed to show the distribution pattern under different storm motion speed, vertical wind shear and the combined effects of varying vertical wind shear and storm motion. Results indicate that motion–relative total precipitation asymmetry is located down–motion. The phase of motion–relative maximum asymmetry shifts cyclonically by adding the wavenumber–2–6 asymmetry to wavenumber–1. Shear is more dominant than motion on the distribution of precipitation asymmetry. The analysis of combined effects of motion and shear shows when shear is weak, and shear is to the left of motion, the precipitation asymmetry is explained more by storm motion. The main contributor to the general asymmetry pattern is from the moderate and heavy precipitation. The wavenumber 2–6 energy localizes the maximum heavy precipitation asymmetry.

The quantified wavenumber 1–6 asymmetries is also applied to differentiate between different intensity change categories and the asymmetry evolution of a rapidly intensifying storm. The precipitation asymmetry properties of rapid intensification (RI) and non–RI storms are examined. The dataset of 2,186 global tropical storms through category 2 hurricanes is divided by future 24–h intensity change and includes storms with at least moderately favorable environmental conditions. The normalized wavenumber 1–6 asymmetries, indicates quantitatively that the lower asymmetry of precipitation is most strongly correlated with future intensity change. The precipitation field of non–RI storms are more asymmetric than RI storms. The 595 sampled overpasses are classified into 14 categories in the timeline of an RI event from 48 hours before RI until RI ends. The decrease of normalized wavenumber 1–6 asymmetries in the inner core region of all four types of precipitation several hours before RI onset was quantitatively demonstrated to be critical for TC RI.





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