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Brett T. Hoover
and
Chris S. Velden

Abstract

The adjoint-derived observation impact method is used as a diagnostic to derive the impact of assimilated observations on a metric representing the forecast intensity of a tropical cyclone (TC). Storm-centered composites of observation impact and the model background state are computed across 6-hourly analysis/forecast cycles to compute the composite observation impact throughout the life cycle of Hurricane Joaquin (2015) to evaluate the impact of in situ wind and temperature observations in the upper and lower troposphere, as well as the impact of brightness temperature and precipitable water observations, on intensity forecasts with forecast lengths from 12 to 48 h. The compositing across analysis/forecast cycles allows for the exploration of consistent relationships between the synoptic-scale state of the initial conditions and the impact of observations that are interpreted as flow-dependent interactions between model background bias and correction by assimilated observations on the TC intensity forecast. The track of Hurricane Matthew (2016), with an extended period of time near the coasts of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, allows for a comparison of the impact of aircraft reconnaissance observations with the impact of nearby overland rawinsonde observations available within the same radius of the TC.

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T. Connor Nelson
,
Lee Harrison
, and
Kristen L. Corbosiero

Abstract

The newly developed Expendable Digital Dropsondes (XDDs) allow for high spatial and temporal resolution observations of the kinematic and thermodynamic structures in tropical cyclones (TCs). It is important to evaluate both the temporal and spatial autocorrelations within the recorded data to address concerns about spatial interpolation, statistical significance of individual data points, and launch-rate spatial requirements for future dropsonde studies in TCs. Data from 437 XDDs launched into Hurricanes Marty (27–28 September), Joaquin (2–5 October), and Patricia (20–23 October) during the 2015 Tropical Cyclone Intensity (TCI) experiment are used to compute temporal and spatial autocorrelations for vertical velocity, temperature, horizontal wind speed, and equivalent potential temperature. All of the examined variables had temporal autocorrelation scales between approximately 10 and 40 s, with most between 20 and 30 s. Most of the spatial autocorrelation scales were estimated to be 3–10 km. The temporal autocorrelation scales for vertical velocity, horizontal wind speed, and equivalent potential temperature were correlated with updraft depth. Vertical velocity usually had the smallest mean, and median, temporal and estimated spatial autocorrelation scales of approximately 20 s and 3–6 km, respectively. The estimated horizontal scales are below the median sounding spacing and suggest that an increase in the launch rate of the XDDs by a factor of 3–4 from the TCI sampling rate is needed to adequately depict TC kinematics and structure in transects of soundings. The results also indicate that current temporal sampling rates are adequate to depict TC kinematics and structure in a single sounding.

Free access
Daniel J. Cecil
and
Sayak K. Biswas

Abstract

Surface wind speed retrievals have been generated and evaluated using Hurricane Imaging Radiometer (HIRAD) measurements from flights over Hurricane Joaquin, Hurricane Patricia, Hurricane Marty, and the remnants of Tropical Storm Erika—all in 2015. Procedures are described here for producing maps of brightness temperature, which are subsequently used for retrievals of surface wind speed and rain rate across a ~50-km-wide swath for each flight leg. An iterative retrieval approach has been developed to take advantage of HIRAD’s measurement characteristics. Validation of the wind speed retrievals has been conducted, using 636 dropsondes released from the same WB-57 high-altitude aircraft carrying HIRAD during the Tropical Cyclone Intensity (TCI) experiment. The HIRAD wind speed retrievals exhibit very small bias relative to the dropsondes, for winds of tropical storm strength (17.5 m s−1) or greater. HIRAD has reduced sensitivity to winds weaker than tropical storm strength and a small positive bias (~2 m s−1). Two flights with predominantly weak winds according to the dropsondes have abnormally large errors from HIRAD and large positive biases. From the other flights, the root-mean-square differences between HIRAD and the dropsonde winds are 4.1 m s−1 (33%) for winds below tropical storm strength, 5.6 m s−1 (25%) for tropical storm–strength winds, and 6.3 m s−1 (16%) for hurricane-strength winds. The mean absolute differences for those three categories are 3.2 m s−1 (25%), 4.3 m s−1 (19%), and 4.8 m s−1 (12%), respectively, with a bias near zero for winds of tropical storm and hurricane strength.

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Peter Black
,
Lee Harrison
,
Mark Beaubien
,
Robert Bluth
,
Roy Woods
,
Andrew Penny
,
Robert W. Smith
, and
James D. Doyle

Abstract

The High-Definition Sounding System (HDSS) is an automated system deploying the expendable digital dropsonde (XDD) designed to measure wind and pressure–temperature–humidity (PTH) profiles, and skin sea surface temperature (SST) within and around tropical cyclones (TCs) and other high-impact weather events needing high sampling density. Three experiments were conducted to validate the XDD.

On two successive days off the California coast, 10 XDDs and 14 Vaisala RD-94s were deployed from the navy’s Center for Interdisciplinary Remotely-Piloted Aircraft Studies (CIRPAS) Twin Otter aircraft over offshore buoys. The Twin Otter made spiral descents from 4 km to 60 m at the same descent rate as the sondes. Differences between successive XDD and RD-94 profiles due to true meteorological variability were on the same order as the profile differences between the spirals, XDDs, and RD-94s. XDD SST measured via infrared microradiometer, referred to as infrared skin SST (SSTir), and surface wind measurements were within 0.5°C and 1.5 m s−1, respectively, of buoy and Twin Otter values.

A NASA DC-8 flight launched six XDDs from 12 km between ex-TC Cosme and the Baja California coast. Repeatability was shown with good agreement between features in successive profiles. XDD SSTir measurements from 18° to 28°C and surface winds agreed well with drifting buoy- and satellite-derived estimates.

Excellent agreement was found between PTH and wind profiles measured by XDDs deployed from a NASA WB-57 at 18-km altitude offshore from the Texas coast and NWS radiosonde profiles from Brownsville and Corpus Christi, Texas. Successful XDD profiles were obtained in the clear and within precipitation over an offshore squall line.

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