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Morris A. Bender
,
Isaac Ginis
,
Robert Tuleya
,
Biju Thomas
, and
Timothy Marchok

Abstract

The past decade has been marked by significant advancements in numerical weather prediction of hurricanes, which have greatly contributed to the steady decline in forecast track error. Since its operational implementation by the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) in 1995, the best-track model performer has been NOAA’s regional hurricane model developed at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL). The purpose of this paper is to summarize the major upgrades to the GFDL hurricane forecast system since 1998. These include coupling the atmospheric component with the Princeton Ocean Model, which became operational in 2001, major physics upgrades implemented in 2003 and 2006, and increases in both the vertical resolution in 2003 and the horizontal resolution in 2002 and 2005. The paper will also report on the GFDL model performance for both track and intensity, focusing particularly on the 2003 through 2006 hurricane seasons. During this period, the GFDL track errors were the lowest of all the dynamical model guidance available to the NWS Tropical Prediction Center in both the Atlantic and eastern Pacific basins. It will also be shown that the GFDL model has exhibited a steady reduction in its intensity errors during the past 5 yr, and can now provide skillful intensity forecasts. Tests of 153 forecasts from the 2004 and 2005 Atlantic hurricane seasons and 75 forecasts from the 2005 eastern Pacific season have demonstrated a positive impact on both track and intensity prediction in the 2006 GFDL model upgrade, through introduction of a cloud microphysics package and an improved air–sea momentum flux parameterization. In addition, the large positive intensity bias in sheared environments observed in previous versions of the model is significantly reduced. This led to the significant improvement in the model’s reliability and skill for forecasting intensity that occurred in 2006.

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Raymond A. Richardson
,
Isaac Ginis
, and
Lewis M. Rothstein

Abstract

Numerical simulations of the local equatorial ocean response to idealized westerly wind burst (WWB) forcing are described. In particular, the authors examine the development and evolution of the subsurface westward jet (SSWJ) that has been observed to accompany these wind events. This westward current is interpreted as the signature of equatorial waves that accompany the downwelling and upwelling that occurs along the edges of the wind forcing region. Some important features of the SSWJ include maximum intensity toward the eastern edge of the forcing region, a time lag between the wind forcing and peak SSWJ development, and an eastward spreading of the SSWJ with time. The effect of wind burst zonal profile, magnitude, duration, and fetch on the SSWJ are explored. The response of an initially resting ocean to WWB forcing is compared with that for model oceans that are spun up with annual-mean surface fluxes and monthly varying fluxes. It is demonstrated that the gross features of the response for the spun up simulations can be well approximated by adding the background zonal current structure prior to the introduction of the wind burst to the initially resting ocean current response to the WWB. This result suggests that the zonal current structure that is present prior to the commencement of WWB forcing plays a key role in determining whether or not a SSWJ will develop.

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Georgi G. Sutyrin
,
Isaac Ginis
, and
Sergey A. Frolov

Abstract

Spatiotemporal evolution of a small localized meander on a Gulf Stream–type baroclinically unstable jet over a topographic slope is investigated numerically using a three-dimensional, primitive equation model. An unperturbed jet is prescribed by a potential vorticity front in the upper thermocline overlaying intermediate layers with weak isentropic potential vorticity gradients and a quiscent bottom layer over a positive (same sense as isopycnal tilt) cross-stream continental slope. A series of numerical experiments with the same initial conditions over a slope and flat bottom on the β plane and on the f plane has been carried out.

An initially localized meander evolves into a wave packet and generates deep eddies that provide a positive feedback for the meander growth. Meanders found growing over a flat bottom are able to pinch off resembling warm and cold core rings, while in the presence of a weak bottom slope such as 0.002, the maximum amplitudes of meanders and associated deep eddies saturate with no eddy shedding. In the flat bottom case, the growth rate is only 10% larger than in the weak slope case. Nevertheless, the bottom slope efficiently controls nonlinear saturation of meander growth via constraining the development of deep eddies. The topographic slope modifies the evolution of deep eddies and causes the phase displacement of deep eddies in the direction of the upper layer troughs/crests, thus limiting growth of the meanders. Behind the wave packet peak deep eddies form a nearly zonal circulation that stabilizes the jet in an equilibrated state. The main equilibration mechanism is a homogenization of the lower-layer potential vorticity by deep eddies. The width of the homogenized zone is narrower for a larger slope and/or on the β plane.

These results have the following implications to the Gulf Stream dynamics: 1) maximum of the meander amplitudes increase as the topographic slope relaxes in qualitative agreement with observed behavior of the Gulf Stream, 2) the phase locking of the meanders with deep eddies underneath at the nonlinear stage agrees qualitatively with the observed structure of large amplitude cyclonic troughs at the central array, and 3) the increase of the barotropic transport on the warm side of the jet and the generation of the recirculation on the cold side of the jet is consistent with observations in the Gulf Stream system downstream of Cape Hatteras.

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Brandon G. Reichl
,
Dong Wang
,
Tetsu Hara
,
Isaac Ginis
, and
Tobias Kukulka

Abstract

The Stokes drift of surface waves significantly modifies the upper-ocean turbulence because of the Craik–Leibovich vortex force (Langmuir turbulence). Under tropical cyclones the contribution of the surface waves varies significantly depending on complex wind and wave conditions. Therefore, turbulence closure models used in ocean models need to explicitly include the sea state–dependent impacts of the Langmuir turbulence. In this study, the K-profile parameterization (KPP) first-moment turbulence closure model is modified to include the explicit Langmuir turbulence effect, and its performance is tested against equivalent large-eddy simulation (LES) experiments under tropical cyclone conditions. First, the KPP model is retuned to reproduce LES results without Langmuir turbulence to eliminate implicit Langmuir turbulence effects included in the standard KPP model. Next, the Lagrangian currents are used in place of the Eulerian currents in the KPP equations that calculate the bulk Richardson number and the vertical turbulent momentum flux. Finally, an enhancement to the turbulent mixing is introduced as a function of the nondimensional turbulent Langmuir number. The retuned KPP, with the Lagrangian currents replacing the Eulerian currents and the turbulent mixing enhanced, significantly improves prediction of upper-ocean temperature and currents compared to the standard (unmodified) KPP model under tropical cyclones and shows improvements over the standard KPP at constant moderate winds (10 m s−1).

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Sergei A. Frolov
,
Georgi G. Sutyrin
, and
Isaac Ginis

Abstract

The symmetry properties of the Gulf Stream–type jet equilibrated over topographic slope are investigated in a series of idealized numerical experiments. A baroclinically unstable zonal jet equilibrates over a sloping bottom through the process of potential vorticity (PV) homogenization underneath the main thermocline by the bottom-intensified eddy activity associated with the stream meandering. Potential vorticity homogenization underneath the main thermocline leads to formation of recirculation gyres on both sides of the jet. The magnitude of the northern recirculation gyre, as measured by its westward transport, is larger than the magnitude of the southern recirculation gyre. This asymmetry in recirculations is shown to be the result of an asymmetric PV mixing underneath the thermocline produced by an asymmetric jet. In particular, the lateral shift of the velocity maximum near the surface relative to the velocity maximum at depth is shown to be responsible for the asymmetry. The results are related to the Gulf Stream data between 73° and 65°W.

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Dong Wang
,
Tobias Kukulka
,
Brandon G. Reichl
,
Tetsu Hara
, and
Isaac Ginis

Abstract

This study utilizes a large-eddy simulation (LES) approach to systematically assess the directional variability of wave-driven Langmuir turbulence (LT) in the ocean surface boundary layer (OSBL) under tropical cyclones (TCs). The Stokes drift vector, which drives LT through the Craik–Leibovich vortex force, is obtained through spectral wave simulations. LT’s direction is identified by horizontally elongated turbulent structures and objectively determined from horizontal autocorrelations of vertical velocities. In spite of a TC’s complex forcing with great wind and wave misalignments, this study finds that LT is approximately aligned with the wind. This is because the Reynolds stress and the depth-averaged Lagrangian shear (Eulerian plus Stokes drift shear) that are key in determining the LT intensity (determined by normalized depth-averaged vertical velocity variances) and direction are also approximately aligned with the wind relatively close to the surface. A scaling analysis of the momentum budget suggests that the Reynolds stress is approximately constant over a near-surface layer with predominant production of turbulent kinetic energy by Stokes drift shear, which is confirmed from the LES results. In this layer, Stokes drift shear, which dominates the Lagrangian shear, is aligned with the wind because of relatively short, wind-driven waves. On the contrary, Stokes drift exhibits considerable amount of misalignments with the wind. This wind–wave misalignment reduces LT intensity, consistent with a simple turbulent kinetic energy model. Our analysis shows that both the Reynolds stress and LT are aligned with the wind for different reasons: the former is dictated by the momentum budget, while the latter is controlled by wind-forced waves.

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Christian Buckingham
,
Timothy Marchok
,
Isaac Ginis
,
Lewis Rothstein
, and
Dail Rowe

Abstract

The NCEP Global Ensemble Forecasting System (GEFS) is examined in its ability to predict tropical cyclone and extratropical transition (ET) positions. Forecast and observed tracks are compared in Atlantic and western North Pacific basins for 2006–08, and the accuracy and consistency of the ensemble are examined out to 8 days. Accuracy is quantified by the average absolute and along- and cross-track errors of the ensemble mean. Consistency is evaluated through the use of dispersion diagrams, missing rate error, and probability within spread. Homogeneous comparisons are made with the NCEP Global Forecasting System (GFS). The average absolute track error of the GEFS mean increases linearly at a rate of 50 n mi day−1 [where 1 nautical mile (n mi) = 1.852 km] at early lead times in the Atlantic, increasing to 150 n mi day−1 at 144 h (100 n mi day−1 when excluding ET tracks). This trend is 60 n mi day−1 at early lead times in the western North Pacific, increasing to 150 n mi day−1 at longer lead times (130 n mi day−1 when excluding ET tracks). At long lead times, forecasts illustrate left- and right-of-track biases in Atlantic and western North Pacific basins, respectively; bias is reduced (increased) in the Atlantic (western North Pacific) when excluding ET tracks. All forecasts were found to lag behind observed cyclones, on average. The GEFS has good dispersion characteristics in the Atlantic and is underdispersive in the western North Pacific. Homogeneous comparisons suggest that the ensemble mean has value relative to the GFS beyond 96 h in the Atlantic and less value in the western North Pacific; a larger sample size is needed before conclusions can be made.

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Il-Ju Moon
,
Tetsu Hara
,
Isaac Ginis
,
Stephen E. Belcher
, and
Hendrik L. Tolman

Abstract

The effect of surface waves on air–sea momentum exchange over mature and growing seas is investigated by combining ocean wave models and a wave boundary layer model. The combined model estimates the wind stress by explicitly calculating the wave-induced stress. In the frequency range near the spectral peak, the NOAA/ NCEP surface wave model WAVEWATCH-III is used to estimate the spectra, while the spectra in the equilibrium range are determined by an analytical model. This approach allows for the estimation of the drag coefficient and the equivalent surface roughness for any surface wave fields. Numerical experiments are performed for constant winds from 10 to 45 m s−1 to investigate the effect of mature and growing seas on air–sea momentum exchange. For mature seas, the Charnock coefficient is estimated to be about 0.01 ∼ 0.02 and the drag coefficient increases as wind speed increases, both of which are within the range of previous observational data. With growing seas, results for winds less than 30 m s−1 show that the drag coefficient is larger for younger seas, which is consistent with earlier studies. For winds higher than 30 m s−1, however, results show a different trend; that is, very young waves yield less drag. This is because the wave-induced stress due to very young waves makes a small contribution to the total wind stress in very high wind conditions.

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Richard M. Yablonsky
,
Isaac Ginis
,
Biju Thomas
,
Vijay Tallapragada
,
Dmitry Sheinin
, and
Ligia Bernardet

Abstract

The Princeton Ocean Model for Tropical Cyclones (POM-TC), a version of the three-dimensional primitive equation numerical ocean model known as the Princeton Ocean Model, was the ocean component of NOAA’s operational Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast Model (HWRF) from 2007 to 2013. The coupled HWRF–POM-TC system facilitates accurate tropical cyclone intensity forecasts through proper simulation of the evolving SST field under simulated tropical cyclones. In this study, the 2013 operational version of HWRF is used to analyze the POM-TC ocean temperature response in retrospective HWRF–POM-TC forecasts of Atlantic Hurricanes Earl (2010), Igor (2010), Irene (2011), Isaac (2012), and Leslie (2012) against remotely sensed and in situ SST and subsurface ocean temperature observations. The model generally underestimates the hurricane-induced upper-ocean cooling, particularly far from the storm track, as well as the upwelling and downwelling oscillation in the cold wake, compared with observations. Nonetheless, the timing of the model SST cooling is generally accurate (after accounting for along-track timing errors), and the ocean model’s vertical temperature structure is generally in good agreement with observed temperature profiles from airborne expendable bathythermographs.

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Robert E. Tuleya
,
Morris Bender
,
Thomas R. Knutson
,
Joseph J. Sirutis
,
Biju Thomas
, and
Isaac Ginis

Abstract

The GFDL hurricane modeling system, initiated in the 1970s, has progressed from a research tool to an operational system over four decades. This system is still in use today in research and operations, and its evolution will be briefly described. This study used an idealized version of the 2014 GFDL model to test its sensitivity across a wide range of three environmental factors that are often identified as key factors in tropical cyclone (TC) evolution: SST, atmospheric stability (upper-air thermal anomalies), and vertical wind shear (westerly through easterly). A wide range of minimum central pressure intensities resulted (905–980 hPa). The results confirm that a scenario (e.g., global warming) in which the upper troposphere warms relative to the surface will have less TC intensification than one with a uniform warming with height. The TC rainfall is also investigated for the SST–stability parameter space. Rainfall increases for combinations of SST increase and increasing stability similar to global warming scenarios, consistent with climate change TC downscaling studies with the GFDL model. The forecast system’s sensitivity to vertical shear was also investigated. The idealized model simulations showed weak disturbances dissipating under strong easterly and westerly shear of 10 m s−1. A small bias for greater intensity under easterly sheared versus westerly sheared environments was found at lower values of SST. The impact of vertical shear on intensity was different when a strong vortex was used in the simulations. In this case, none of the initial disturbances weakened, and most intensified to some extent.

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