TILTED TROPICAL CYCLONE SIMULATIONS

A 3d rendering of clouds seen from directly above. 3d rendering data was taken from a simulated hurricane. A 3d rendering of the same simulated hurricane showing the vertical tilt of the center core. A 3d rendering of the same hurricane's vertical vorticity (how much the wind is twisting up/downwards at that point). A 3d rendering of the clouds seen from an angle and a 2d rendering of the surface windspeeds on the ground.

Click here to download the animated versions of these 3d renders. I highly recommend it, they are much more interesting than the pictures, just also harder to host on the web.

For the summer leading up to my senior year of undergrad at CU Boulder, I was a Research Intern at NorthWest Research Associates. I worked on simulating the development of tilted tropical cyclones with David Schecter (https://www.cora.nwra.com/~schecter/). This research was a great experience for me, not only because it gave me the opportunity to work with a supercomputer for the first time in my life, but also because I was able to steer the project in my own direction during my free time. Instead of just running simulations and gathering data points, I decided to look into 3 dimensional ways to visualize the tropical cyclones that I was simulating. I started to use Mayavi, a python application/library developed by EnThought, to create these 3d visualizations you see in this portfolio.

Most of the work I did on animations went into animating the "clouds" that we would see. In the world of simulating atmospheric sciences, the "clouds" are actually separated out into different "mixing ratios" for the rain, snow, ice, etc. and in order for me to view what normal people would call "clouds" I had to combine all the mixing ratios together. This is why I often would label these animations with something along the lines of "combined hydrometeor mixing ratios", when really I just mean "clouds". The other animations I worked on included vertical vorticity (the unlabled red and blue render), and adjusted pressure. The vertical vorticity is basically just how much the wind is turning upwards/downwards at that given point. Positive vertical vorticity, air turning upwards, is colored in red, while the negative is colored in blue. The big mess of red and blue that you see at the beginning of the animation is the result of "convective dipoles" forming, these can also be seen as large pillars of precipitation in the clouds animations. Near the end of the simulation, you'll see a large solid tube of red appears in the middle of all the noise, and that is the eye of the hurricane developing right as the cyclone rapidly intensifies. The adjusted pressure is less scientific than the rest, and was really just the result from me fine tuning different aspects of the pressure field in an attempt to show where exactly the center of the hurricane was. In this animation you can see the bottom and top of the center tube go from having 400km of separation to 200km in just a couple hours.

All of these renderings and animations were great for helping me show people what I was talking about when trying to explain what my research is about. I would constantly have family, friends, and generally people close to me asking me "what is a tilted cyclone though?" Because it was asked so often, I kind of internally just developed a scrip to go off of. So later for my ATLAS 3110 - Motion class, I decided to adapt that internal script into an animated explainer video that I could just quickly show to someone and they'd understand all the basics about tilted tropical cyclones in just under a minute. I've now used this video to explain the concept dozens of times, and the reaction is usually something like "oh yeah, I totally get it all now!" So I think that means the project was a success. This video can be found at the top above the images, or on my Vimeo page here.