In this research, we develop a three-way coupled prediction system to advance the realization of air–sea interaction processes. This study considers the sea-state-dependent momentum flux and nonlinear interactions between waves, winds, and ocean currents using the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s operational Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF)-Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) coupled modeling system. Wave feedback is performed through the air–sea interaction module (ASIM) added to WAVEWATCH III (WW3), which employs the wave boundary layer to parameterize unresolved high-frequency tail spectra by using the mean flux profile constructed from the conservation of total momentum and wave energy. The atmospheric momentum flux is updated using the sea-state-dependent Charnock coefficient, wave-induced stress, and ocean surface currents before being passed to HYCOM. Wave coupling in HYCOM includes Coriolis–Stokes forcing to simulate wave–current interactions and to enhance mixing to account for Langmuir turbulence. The fully coupled system is tested for Hurricane Laura (2020). This paper examines the forecast skills of the individual component models by comparing simulations with observations. Without skill degradation of HYCOM and WW3, the three-way coupling method improves the track and intensity forecast skills by 5% each over those of HWRF-HYCOM coupling, and 27% and 17% over those of uncoupling, respectively. Importantly, this fully coupled system outperforms rapid intensification by reducing the intensification magnitude and matching the occurrence and duration. Overall, the forecast performance evaluated in the study establishes a baseline for the next-generation hurricane prediction system.
This study is the documentation of the numerical advancement of tropical cyclone (TC) forecasting and the demonstration of the improvement of the TC intensity forecast. A key asset is the importance of wave coupling and inclusion of the nonlinear interactions in the air–sea interaction zone, and is to advance the current U.S. NCEP operational coupled hurricane modeling system. By assessing simulations for Hurricane Laura (2020), we demonstrate skill improvement of the storm structure, and intensity forecasts, especially for rapid intensification (RI) by correcting the timing and the magnitude of RI simulated by uncoupling and two-way coupling.
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