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Objective Tropical Cyclone Center Tracking Using Single-Doppler Radar

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  • 1 Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, and National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

This study presents an extension of the ground-based velocity track display (GBVTD)-simplex tropical cyclone (TC) circulation center–finding algorithm to further improve the accuracy and consistency of TC center estimates from single-Doppler radar data. The improved center-finding method determines a TC track that ensures spatial and temporal continuities of four primary characteristics: the radius of maximum wind, the maximum axisymmetric tangential wind, and the latitude and longitude of the TC circulation center. A statistical analysis improves the consistency of the TC centers over time and makes it possible to automate the GBVTD-simplex algorithm for tracking of landfalling TCs. The characteristics and performance of this objective statistical center-finding method are evaluated using datasets from Hurricane Danny (1997) and Bret (1999) over 5-h periods during which both storms were simultaneously observed by two coastal Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) units. Independent single-Doppler and dual-Doppler centers are determined and used to assess the absolute accuracy of the algorithm. Reductions of 50% and 10% in the average distance between independent center estimates are found for Danny and Bret, respectively, over the original GBVTD-simplex method. The average center uncertainties are estimated to be less than 2 km, yielding estimated errors of less than 5% in the retrieved radius of maximum wind and wavenumber-0 axisymmetric tangential wind, and ~30% error in the wavenumber-1 asymmetric tangential wind. The objective statistical center-finding method can be run on a time scale comparable to that of a WSR-88D volume scan, thus making it a viable tool for both research and operational use.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Michael M. Bell, Naval Postgraduate School, 589 Dyer Road, Root Hall, Monterey, CA 93943. E-mail: mmbell@nps.edu

Abstract

This study presents an extension of the ground-based velocity track display (GBVTD)-simplex tropical cyclone (TC) circulation center–finding algorithm to further improve the accuracy and consistency of TC center estimates from single-Doppler radar data. The improved center-finding method determines a TC track that ensures spatial and temporal continuities of four primary characteristics: the radius of maximum wind, the maximum axisymmetric tangential wind, and the latitude and longitude of the TC circulation center. A statistical analysis improves the consistency of the TC centers over time and makes it possible to automate the GBVTD-simplex algorithm for tracking of landfalling TCs. The characteristics and performance of this objective statistical center-finding method are evaluated using datasets from Hurricane Danny (1997) and Bret (1999) over 5-h periods during which both storms were simultaneously observed by two coastal Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) units. Independent single-Doppler and dual-Doppler centers are determined and used to assess the absolute accuracy of the algorithm. Reductions of 50% and 10% in the average distance between independent center estimates are found for Danny and Bret, respectively, over the original GBVTD-simplex method. The average center uncertainties are estimated to be less than 2 km, yielding estimated errors of less than 5% in the retrieved radius of maximum wind and wavenumber-0 axisymmetric tangential wind, and ~30% error in the wavenumber-1 asymmetric tangential wind. The objective statistical center-finding method can be run on a time scale comparable to that of a WSR-88D volume scan, thus making it a viable tool for both research and operational use.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Michael M. Bell, Naval Postgraduate School, 589 Dyer Road, Root Hall, Monterey, CA 93943. E-mail: mmbell@nps.edu
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