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Normalized Convective Characteristics of Tropical Cyclone Rapid Intensification Events in the North Atlantic and Eastern North Pacific

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York
  • 2 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

The relationship between tropical cyclone (TC) convective characteristics and TC intensity change is explored using infrared and passive microwave satellite imagery of TCs in the North Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins from 1989 to 2016. TC intensity change episodes were placed into one of four groups: rapid intensification (RI), slow intensification (SI), neutral (N), and weakening (W). To account for differences in the distributions of TC intensity among the intensity change groups, a normalization technique is introduced, which allows for the analysis of anomalous TC convective characteristics and their relationship to TC intensity change.

A composite analysis of normalized convective parameters shows anomalously cold infrared and 85-GHz brightness temperatures, as well as anomalously warm 37-GHz brightness temperatures, in the upshear quadrants of the TC are associated with increased rates of TC intensification, including RI. For RI episodes in the North Atlantic basin, an increase in anomalous liquid hydrometeor content precedes anomalous ice hydrometeor content by approximately 12 h, suggesting convection deep enough to produce robust ice scattering is a symptom of, rather than a precursor to, RI. In the eastern North Pacific basin, the amount of anomalous liquid and ice hydrometeors increases in tandem near the onset of RI.

Normalized infrared and passive microwave brightness temperatures can be utilized to skillfully predict episodes of RI, as the forecast skill of RI episodes using solely normalized convective parameters is comparable to the forecast skill of RI episodes by current operational statistical models.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Michael S. Fischer, msfischer@albany.edu

Abstract

The relationship between tropical cyclone (TC) convective characteristics and TC intensity change is explored using infrared and passive microwave satellite imagery of TCs in the North Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins from 1989 to 2016. TC intensity change episodes were placed into one of four groups: rapid intensification (RI), slow intensification (SI), neutral (N), and weakening (W). To account for differences in the distributions of TC intensity among the intensity change groups, a normalization technique is introduced, which allows for the analysis of anomalous TC convective characteristics and their relationship to TC intensity change.

A composite analysis of normalized convective parameters shows anomalously cold infrared and 85-GHz brightness temperatures, as well as anomalously warm 37-GHz brightness temperatures, in the upshear quadrants of the TC are associated with increased rates of TC intensification, including RI. For RI episodes in the North Atlantic basin, an increase in anomalous liquid hydrometeor content precedes anomalous ice hydrometeor content by approximately 12 h, suggesting convection deep enough to produce robust ice scattering is a symptom of, rather than a precursor to, RI. In the eastern North Pacific basin, the amount of anomalous liquid and ice hydrometeors increases in tandem near the onset of RI.

Normalized infrared and passive microwave brightness temperatures can be utilized to skillfully predict episodes of RI, as the forecast skill of RI episodes using solely normalized convective parameters is comparable to the forecast skill of RI episodes by current operational statistical models.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Michael S. Fischer, msfischer@albany.edu
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