The characteristics of moist static energy (MSE) and its budget in a simulated tropical cyclone (TC) are examined in this study. Results demonstrate that MSE in a TC system is enhanced as the storm strengthens, primarily because of two mechanisms: upward transfer of surface heat fluxes and subsequent warming of the upper troposphere. An inspection of the interchangeable approximation between MSE and equivalent potential temperature (θe
) suggests that although MSE is capable of capturing overall structures of θe
, some important features will still be distorted, specifically the low-MSE pool outside the eyewall. In this low-MSE region, from the budget analysis, the discharge of MSE in the boundary layer may even surpass the recharge of MSE from the ocean. Unlike the volume-averaged MSE, the mass-weighted MSE in a fixed volume following the TC shows no apparent increase as the TC intensifies, because the atmosphere becomes continually thinner accompanying the warming of the storm. By calculating a mass-weighted volume MSE budget, the TC system is found to export MSE throughout its lifetime, since the radial outflow overwhelms the radial inflow. Moreover, the more intensified the TC is, the more export of MSE there tends to be. The input of MSE by surface heat fluxes is roughly balanced by the combined effects of radiation and lateral export, wherein a great majority of the imported MSE is reduced by radiation, while the export of MSE from the TC system to the environment accounts for only a small portion.
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