Meteotsunami waves can be triggered by atmospheric disturbances accompanying tropical cyclone rainbands (TCRs) before, during, and long after a tropical cyclone (TC) makes landfall. Due to a paucity of high-resolution field data along open coasts during TCs, relatively little is known about the atmospheric forcing that generate and resonantly amplify these ocean waves, nor their coastal impact. This study links high-resolution field measurements of sea level and air pressure from Hurricane Harvey (2017) with a numerical model to assess the potential for meteotsunami generation by sudden changes in air pressure accompanying TCRs. Previous studies, through the use of idealized models, have suggested that wind is the dominant forcing mechanism for TCR-induced meteotsunami with negligible contributions from air pressure. Our model simulations show that large air pressure perturbations (∼1–3 mbar) can generate meteotsunamis that are similar in period (∼20 min) and amplitude (∼0.2 m) to surf zone observations. The measured air pressure disturbances were often short in wavelength, which necessitates a numerical model with high temporal and spatial resolution to simulate meteotsunami triggered by this mechanism. Sensitivity analysis indicates that air pressure forcing can produce meteotsunami with amplitudes O(0.5 m) and large spatial extents, but model results are sensitive to atmospheric factors, including model uncertainties (length, forward translation speed, and trajectory of the air pressure disturbance), as well as oceanographic factors (storm surge). The present study provides observational and numerical evidence that suggest that air pressure perturbations likely play a larger role in meteotsunami generation by TCRs than previously identified.
- Proudman resonance
- tropical cyclone rainbands