Tracking Scheme Dependence of Simulated Tropical Cyclone Response to Idealized Climate Simulations

Michael Horn * School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Kevin Walsh * School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Ming Zhao NOAA/GFDL, Princeton, New Jersey

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Suzana J. Camargo Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, New York

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Enrico Scoccimarro Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, and Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici, Bologna, Italy

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Hiroyuki Murakami IPRC/MRI, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan

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Hui Wang ** NOAA/NWS/NCEP/Climate Prediction Center, College Park, Maryland

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Andrew Ballinger Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

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Arun Kumar ** NOAA/NWS/NCEP/Climate Prediction Center, College Park, Maryland

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Daniel A. Shaevitz Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University, New York, New York

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Jeffrey A. Jonas Center for Climate System Research, Columbia University, and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, New York

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Kazuyoshi Oouchi Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Yokohama, Japan

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Abstract

Future tropical cyclone activity is a topic of great scientific and societal interest. In the absence of a climate theory of tropical cyclogenesis, general circulation models are the primary tool available for investigating the issue. However, the identification of tropical cyclones in model data at moderate resolution is complex, and numerous schemes have been developed for their detection.

The influence of different tracking schemes on detected tropical cyclone activity and responses in the Hurricane Working Group experiments is examined herein. These are idealized atmospheric general circulation model experiments aimed at determining and distinguishing the effects of increased sea surface temperature and other increased CO2 effects on tropical cyclone activity. Two tracking schemes are applied to these data and the tracks provided by each modeling group are analyzed.

The results herein indicate moderate agreement between the different tracking methods, with some models and experiments showing better agreement across schemes than others. When comparing responses between experiments, it is found that much of the disagreement between schemes is due to differences in duration, wind speed, and formation-latitude thresholds. After homogenization in these thresholds, agreement between different tracking methods is improved. However, much disagreement remains, accountable for by more fundamental differences between the tracking schemes. The results indicate that sensitivity testing and selection of objective thresholds are the key factors in obtaining meaningful, reproducible results when tracking tropical cyclones in climate model data at these resolutions, but that more fundamental differences between tracking methods can also have a significant impact on the responses in activity detected.

Corresponding author address: Michael Horn, School of Earth Sciences, Corner Swanston and Elgin Streets, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia. E-mail: mjhorn@student.unimelb.edu.au

This article is included in the US CLIVAR Hurricanes and Climate special collection.

Abstract

Future tropical cyclone activity is a topic of great scientific and societal interest. In the absence of a climate theory of tropical cyclogenesis, general circulation models are the primary tool available for investigating the issue. However, the identification of tropical cyclones in model data at moderate resolution is complex, and numerous schemes have been developed for their detection.

The influence of different tracking schemes on detected tropical cyclone activity and responses in the Hurricane Working Group experiments is examined herein. These are idealized atmospheric general circulation model experiments aimed at determining and distinguishing the effects of increased sea surface temperature and other increased CO2 effects on tropical cyclone activity. Two tracking schemes are applied to these data and the tracks provided by each modeling group are analyzed.

The results herein indicate moderate agreement between the different tracking methods, with some models and experiments showing better agreement across schemes than others. When comparing responses between experiments, it is found that much of the disagreement between schemes is due to differences in duration, wind speed, and formation-latitude thresholds. After homogenization in these thresholds, agreement between different tracking methods is improved. However, much disagreement remains, accountable for by more fundamental differences between the tracking schemes. The results indicate that sensitivity testing and selection of objective thresholds are the key factors in obtaining meaningful, reproducible results when tracking tropical cyclones in climate model data at these resolutions, but that more fundamental differences between tracking methods can also have a significant impact on the responses in activity detected.

Corresponding author address: Michael Horn, School of Earth Sciences, Corner Swanston and Elgin Streets, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia. E-mail: mjhorn@student.unimelb.edu.au

This article is included in the US CLIVAR Hurricanes and Climate special collection.

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