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Performance of an Improved TKE-based Eddy-Diffusivity Mass-Flux (EDMF) PBL Scheme in 2021 Hurricane Forecasts from Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System

Xiaomin Chen1NOAA/OAR/Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Miami, FL
2Northern Gulf Institute, Mississippi State University, Stennis Space Center, MS

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Andrew Hazelton1NOAA/OAR/Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Miami, FL
3Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, University of Miami, Miami, FL

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Frank D. Marks1NOAA/OAR/Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Miami, FL

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Ghassan J. Alaka Jr1NOAA/OAR/Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Miami, FL

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Chunxi Zhang4NOAA/NWS/NCEP Environmental Modeling Center, College Park, MD
5I.M. Systems Group, College Park, MD

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Abstract

Continuous development and evaluation of planetary boundary layer (PBL) parameterizations in hurricane conditions are crucial for improving tropical cyclone (TC) forecasts. A turbulence kinetic energy (TKE)-based eddy-diffusivity mass-flux (EDMF-TKE) PBL scheme, implemented in NOAA’s Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System (HAFS), was recently improved in hurricane conditions using large-eddy simulations. This study evaluates the performance of HAFS TC forecasts with the original (experiment HAFA) and modified EDMF-TKE (experiment HAFY) based on a large sample of cases during the 2021 North Atlantic hurricane season. Results indicate that intensity and structure forecast skill was better overall in HAFY than in HAFA, including during rapid intensification. Composite analyses demonstrate that HAFY produces shallower and stronger boundary layer inflow, especially within 1–3 times the radius of maximum wind (RMW). Stronger inflow and more moisture in the boundary layer contribute to stronger moisture convergence near the RMW. These boundary layer characteristics are consistent with stronger, deeper, and more compact TC vortices in HAFY than in HAFA. Nevertheless, track skill in HAFY is slightly reduced, which is in part attributable to the cross-track error from a few early cycles of Hurricane Henri that exhibited ~400 n mi track error at longer lead times. Sensitivity experiments based on HAFY demonstrate that turning off cumulus schemes notably reduces the track errors of Henri while turning off the deep cumulus scheme reduces the intensity errors. This finding hints at the necessity of unifying the mass fluxes in PBL and cumulus schemes in future model physics development.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Xiaomin Chen, Dept. of Atmospheric and Earth Science, The University of Alabama in Huntsville, 320 Sparkman Drive, Huntsville, AL 35805. E-mail: xc0011@uah.edu

Abstract

Continuous development and evaluation of planetary boundary layer (PBL) parameterizations in hurricane conditions are crucial for improving tropical cyclone (TC) forecasts. A turbulence kinetic energy (TKE)-based eddy-diffusivity mass-flux (EDMF-TKE) PBL scheme, implemented in NOAA’s Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System (HAFS), was recently improved in hurricane conditions using large-eddy simulations. This study evaluates the performance of HAFS TC forecasts with the original (experiment HAFA) and modified EDMF-TKE (experiment HAFY) based on a large sample of cases during the 2021 North Atlantic hurricane season. Results indicate that intensity and structure forecast skill was better overall in HAFY than in HAFA, including during rapid intensification. Composite analyses demonstrate that HAFY produces shallower and stronger boundary layer inflow, especially within 1–3 times the radius of maximum wind (RMW). Stronger inflow and more moisture in the boundary layer contribute to stronger moisture convergence near the RMW. These boundary layer characteristics are consistent with stronger, deeper, and more compact TC vortices in HAFY than in HAFA. Nevertheless, track skill in HAFY is slightly reduced, which is in part attributable to the cross-track error from a few early cycles of Hurricane Henri that exhibited ~400 n mi track error at longer lead times. Sensitivity experiments based on HAFY demonstrate that turning off cumulus schemes notably reduces the track errors of Henri while turning off the deep cumulus scheme reduces the intensity errors. This finding hints at the necessity of unifying the mass fluxes in PBL and cumulus schemes in future model physics development.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Xiaomin Chen, Dept. of Atmospheric and Earth Science, The University of Alabama in Huntsville, 320 Sparkman Drive, Huntsville, AL 35805. E-mail: xc0011@uah.edu
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