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Michael C. Kruk
,
Kenneth R. Knapp
, and
David H. Levinson

Abstract

Best track data generally consist of the positions and intensities during the life cycle of a tropical cyclone. Despite the widespread interest in the distribution, frequency, and intensity of tropical cyclones worldwide, no publicly available central repository of global best track data from international agencies has been in existence. While there are numerous international centers that forecast tropical cyclones and archive best track data for their defined regions, most researchers traditionally use best track data from a very small subset of centers to construct global datasets and climatologies. This practice results in tropical cyclones that are either missed and/or misrepresented. While the process of combining positions and intensities from disparate data sources can be arduous, it is worthwhile and necessary in light of their importance. The nature of historical best track data is that they are prone to issues with intensity (maximum surface wind and minimum central pressure), especially in the presatellite era. This study is not a reanalysis effort and makes no attempt to correct any longstanding debates about the accuracy of the historical data. Rather, it simply and objectively combines all of the best track data from each of the regional forecast centers that provided best tracks into one single point for distribution, and the methods used to construct the dataset are the focus of this work. Processes are therefore described herein that detail the combining of tropical cyclone best track data with the techniques used to assess the quality of the minimum central pressure and maximum sustained wind speed of each reported tropical cyclone. The result is a comprehensive global best track compilation dataset that contains information on all documented tropical cyclones: the International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship (IBTrACS).

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