Impact of vertical wind shear on roll structure in idealized hurricane boundary layers
Abstract. Quasi-two-dimensional roll vortices are frequently observed in hurricane boundary layers. It is believed that this highly coherent structure, likely caused by the inflection-point instability, plays an important role in organizing turbulent transport. Large-eddy simulations are conducted to investigate the impact of wind shear characteristics, such as the shear strength and inflection-point level, on the roll structure in terms of its spectral characteristics and turbulence organization. A mean wind nudging approach is used in the simulations to maintain the specified mean wind shear without directly affecting turbulent motions. Enhancing the radial wind shear expands the roll horizontal scale and strengthens the roll's kinetic energy. Increasing the inflection-point level tends to produce a narrow and sharp peak in the power spectrum at the wavelength consistent with the roll spacing indicated by the instantaneous turbulent fields. The spectral tangential momentum flux, in particular, reaches a strong peak value at the roll wavelength. In contrast, the spectral radial momentum flux obtains its maximum at the wavelength that is usually shorter than the roll's, suggesting that the roll radial momentum transport is less efficient than the tangential because of the quasi-two-dimensionality of the roll structure. The most robust rolls are produced in a simulation with the highest inflection-point level and relatively strong radial wind shear. Based on the spectral analysis, the roll-scale contribution to the turbulent momentum flux can reach 40 % in the middle of the boundary layer.