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Little is known about the effects of surface water over land on the decay of landfalling hurricanes. This study, using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory hurricane model, examines the surface temperature changes due to hurricane–land surface water interactions, and their effects on the surface heat fluxes, hurricane structure, and intensity. Different water depths and surface conditions are incorporated for a variety of experiments starting with a hurricane bogus embedded in a uniform easterly mean flow of 5 m s−1.

A salient feature of hurricane–land surface water interaction is the local surface cooling near the hurricane core with the largest cooling behind and on the right side of the hurricane center. Unlike the surface cooling due to hurricane–ocean interaction, the largest cooling in hurricane–land surface water interaction can be much closer to the hurricane core. Without solar radiation during night, the surface evaporation dominates the local surface cooling. This causes a surface temperature contrast between the core area and its environment. During the day, the surface temperature contrast is enhanced due to additional influence from the reduced solar radiation under the core. Related to the local surface cooling, there is a significant reduction of surface evaporation with a near cutoff behind the hurricane center. A layer of half-meter water can noticeably reduce landfall decay although the local surface temperature around the hurricane core region is more than 4°C lower than in its environment. Further experiments indicate that an increase of roughness reduces the surface winds but barely changes the surface temperature and evaporation patterns and their magnitudes since the increase of roughness also increases the efficiency of surface evaporation.