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Horizontal roll vortices, or rolls, are frequently observed in the hurricane boundary layer (HBL). Previous studies suggest that these rolls can be generated by the inflection point instability of the HBL flow. In this study we investigate the formation of rolls due to this mechanism in the axisymmetric HBL using a numerical approach that explicitly resolves rolls. The effects of mean HBL wind and stratification distributions on rolls are evaluated. We identify two important factors of the mean HBL wind that affect the characteristics of rolls. The dynamical HBL height affects the wavelength of rolls, and the magnitude of the mean wind shear affects the growth rate of rolls. As a result, under neutrally stratified HBL, the wavelength of rolls increases with the radius (out of the radius of maximum wind), while the growth rate of rolls decreases. The stratification also plays an important role in the generation of rolls. The stable stratification suppresses the growth of rolls because of the negative work done by the buoyancy force. Nonuniform stratification with a mixed layer has less suppressing effect on rolls. Rolls can trigger internal waves in the stably stratified layer, which have both vertically propagating and decaying properties. We derive analytical solutions for the internal waves, which relate the properties of the internal waves to the boundary layer rolls. We find the properties of the internal waves are affected by the mixed-layer height.

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© 2014 American Meteorological Society. Open Access Content