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Richard M. Yablonsky
and
Isaac Ginis

Abstract

Wind stress imposed on the upper ocean by a hurricane can limit the hurricane’s intensity primarily through shear-induced mixing of the upper ocean and subsequent cooling of the sea surface. Since shear-induced mixing is a one-dimensional process, some recent studies suggest that coupling a one-dimensional ocean model to a hurricane model may be sufficient for capturing the storm-induced sea surface temperature cooling in the region providing heat energy to the hurricane. Using both a one-dimensional and a three-dimensional version of the same ocean model, it is shown here that the neglect of upwelling, which can only be captured by a three-dimensional ocean model, underestimates the storm-core sea surface cooling for hurricanes translating at <∼5 m s−1. For hurricanes translating at <2 m s−1, more than half of the storm-core sea surface cooling is neglected by the one-dimensional ocean model. Since the majority of hurricanes in the western tropical North Atlantic Ocean translate at <5 m s−1, the idealized experiments presented here suggest that one-dimensional ocean models may be inadequate for coupled hurricane–ocean model forecasting.

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Morris A. Bender
and
Isaac Ginis

Abstract

In order to investigate the effect of tropical cyclone–ocean interaction on the intensity of observed hurricanes, the GFDL movable triply nested mesh hurricane model was coupled with a high-resolution version of the Princeton Ocean Model. The ocean model had 1/6° uniform resolution, which matched the horizontal resolution of the hurricane model in its innermost grid. Experiments were run with and without inclusion of the coupling for two cases of Hurricane Opal (1995) and one case of Hurricane Gilbert (1988) in the Gulf of Mexico and two cases each of Hurricanes Felix (1995) and Fran (1996) in the western Atlantic. The results confirmed the conclusions suggested by the earlier idealized studies that the cooling of the sea surface induced by the tropical cyclone will have a significant impact on the intensity of observed storms, particularly for slow moving storms where the SST decrease is greater. In each of the seven forecasts, the ocean coupling led to substantial improvements in the prediction of storm intensity measured by the storm’s minimum sea level pressure.

Without the effect of coupling the GFDL model incorrectly forecasted 25-hPa deepening of Gilbert as it moved across the Gulf of Mexico. With the coupling included, the model storm deepened only 10 hPa, which was much closer to the observed amount of 4 hPa. Similarly, during the period that Opal moved very slowly in the southern Gulf of Mexico, the coupled model produced a large SST decrease northwest of the Yucatan and slow deepening consistent with the observations. The uncoupled model using the initial NCEP SSTs predicted rapid deepening of 58 hPa during the same period.

Improved intensity prediction was achieved both for Hurricanes Felix and Fran in the western Atlantic. For the case of Hurricane Fran, the coarse resolution of the NCEP SST analysis could not resolve Hurricane Edouard’s wake, which was produced when Edouard moved in nearly an identical path to Fran four days earlier. As a result, the operational GFDL forecast using the operational SSTs and without coupling incorrectly forecasted 40-hPa deepening while Fran remained at nearly constant intensity as it crossed the wake. When the coupled model was run with Edouard’s cold wake generated by imposing hurricane wind forcing during the ocean initialization, the intensity prediction was significantly improved. The model also correctly predicted the rapid deepening that occurred as Fran began to move away from the cold wake. These results suggest the importance of an accurate initial SST analysis as well as the inclusion of the ocean coupling, for accurate hurricane intensity prediction with a dynamical model.

Recently, the GFDL hurricane–ocean coupled model used in these case studies was run on 163 forecasts during the 1995–98 seasons. Improved intensity forecasts were again achieved with the mean absolute error in the forecast of central pressure reduced by about 26% compared to the operational GFDL model. During the 1998 season, when the system was run in near–real time, the coupled model improved the intensity forecasts for all storms with central pressure higher than 940 hPa although the most significant improvement (∼60%) occurred in the intensity range of 960–970 hPa. These much larger sample sets confirmed the conclusion from the case studies, that the hurricane–ocean interaction is an important physical mechanism in the intensity of observed tropical cyclones.

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Richard M. Yablonsky
and
Isaac Ginis

Abstract

Coupled hurricane–ocean forecast models require proper initialization of the ocean thermal structure. Here, a new feature-based (F-B) ocean initialization procedure in the GFDL/University of Rhode Island (URI) coupled hurricane prediction system is presented to account for spatial and temporal variability of mesoscale oceanic features in the Gulf of Mexico, including the Loop Current (LC), Loop Current eddies [i.e., warm-core rings (WCRs)], and cold-core rings (CCRs). Using only near-real-time satellite altimetry for the “SHA-assimilated” case, the LC, a single WCR, and a single CCR are assimilated into NAVOCEANO’s Global Digitized Environmental Model (GDEM) ocean temperature and salinity climatology along with satellite-derived daily sea surface temperature (SST) data from 15 September 2005 to produce a more realistic three-dimensional temperature field valid on the model initialization date (15 September 2005). For the “fully assimilated” case, both near-real-time altimetry and real-time in situ airborne XBT (AXBT) temperature profiles are assimilated into GDEM along with SST to produce the three-dimensional temperature field. Vertical profiles from the resulting SHA-assimilated and fully assimilated temperature fields are compared to 18 real-time AXBT temperature profiles, the ocean climatology (GDEM), and an alternative data-assimilated product [the daily North and Equatorial Atlantic Ocean Prediction System Best Estimate (RSMAS HYCOM), which uses an Optimal Interpolation (OI) based assimilation technique] to determine the relative accuracy of the F-B initialization procedure presented here. Also, the tropical cyclone heat potential (TCHP) from each of these profiles is calculated by integrating the oceanic heat content from the surface to the depth of the 26°C isotherm. Assuming the AXBT profiles are truth, the TCHP rms error for the F-B SHA-assimilated case, the F-B fully assimilated case, the GDEM ocean climatology, and the RSMAS HYCOM product is 12, 10, 45, and 26 kJ cm−2, respectively.

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Richard M. Yablonsky
and
Isaac Ginis

Abstract

Upper oceanic heat content (OHC) in advance of a hurricane is generally superior to prestorm sea surface temperature (SST) for indicating favorable regions for hurricane intensification and maintenance. OHC is important because a hurricane’s surface winds mix the upper ocean and entrain cooler water into the oceanic mixed layer from below, subsequently cooling the sea surface in the region providing heat energy to the storm. For a given initial SST, increased OHC typically decreases the wind-induced sea surface cooling, and a warm ocean eddy (WCR) has a higher OHC than its surroundings, so conditions typically become more favorable for a hurricane to intensify when the storm’s core encounters a WCR. When considering hurricane intensity, however, one often-neglected aspect of a WCR is its anticyclonic circulation. This circulation may impact the location and magnitude of the hurricane-induced sea surface cooling. Using an ocean model, either prescribed hurricane wind stress or wind stress obtained via coupling to a hurricane model is applied to an initial ocean condition in which the SST is homogeneous, but a WCR is embedded in an otherwise horizontally homogeneous subsurface density field. Based on model experiments, when a WCR is located to the right of the storm track (in the Northern Hemisphere), the interaction of the WCR’s circulation with the hurricane-induced cold wake can cause increased sea surface cooling under the storm core and decreased storm intensity relative to the scenario where no WCR is present at all. Therefore, the presence of a WCR in advance of a hurricane sometimes creates a less favorable condition for hurricane intensification.

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Il-Ju Moon
,
Isaac Ginis
, and
Tetsu Hara

Abstract

Effects of new drag coefficient (Cd ) parameterizations on WAVEWATCH III (WW3) model surface wave simulations are investigated. The new parameterizations are based on a coupled wind–wave model (CWW) and a wave tank experiment, and yields reduced Cd at high wind speeds. Numerical experiments for uniform winds and Hurricane Katrina (2005) indicate that the original Cd parameterization used in WW3 overestimates drag at high wind speeds compared to recent observational, theoretical, and numerical modeling results. Comparisons with buoy measurements during Hurricane Katrina demonstrate that WW3 simulations with the new Cd parameterizations yield more accurate significant wave heights compared to simulations with the original Cd parameterization, provided that accurate high-resolution wind forcing fields are used.

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Alexander I. Falkovich
,
Alexander P. Khain
, and
Isaac Ginis

Abstract

The interaction of binary tropical cyclones (TC) is investigated using a coupled TC-ocean movable nested-grid model. The model consists of an eight-layer atmospheric model in the sigma coordinate system and a three-layer primitive equation ocean model. There are five meshes in the TC model. The outermost domain (3840 km × 3840 km) is motionless. For the description of each TC in a TC pair, two telescopically nested meshes of finer resolution are used. The pair of the middle (1600 km × 1600 km) and innermost (800 km × 800 km) meshes move with the center of a corresponding TC. The space increments of the outermost domain and the middle and finest meshes are 160, 80, and 40 km. The oceanic domain contains 107 × 107 grid points, with the spatial increment of 40 km. In all numerical experiments a pair of equal strength axisymmetric vortices was located at different separation distances.

Experiments show that the rate of development of interacting TCs is different, mainly due to the difference in the velocities of TC movement. There is a “critical” separation distance between the centers of TCs, so that in case the separation distance is less than this critical value, attraction and merger of the TCs were observed. The critical separation distance depends on the structure of the vorticity field created by the binary TCs. Because of the changes in the structure of a TC during its life cycle the critical separation distance should also change. Two mechanisms related to the mutual vorticity advection and to the activity of irrotational velocity components seem to contribute to the attraction and repulsion of binary TCs.

The impact of the TC-ocean interaction on the evolution and trajectory of binary TCs is much stronger than in the case of a single TC. A decrease in TC strength is related not only to a TC response to seawater cooling caused by the TC itself but also to the crossing of the cold water wakes created both by the other TC and by the TC itself. A decrease in strength loads to a decrease in the mutual rotation velocity and, consequently, to a marked change in the trajectories of each of the interacting TCs. Changes in the structure of binary TCs caused by the TC-ocean interaction lead to an increase of the critical separation distance. Binary TCs cause seawater cooling over vast ocean areas and lead to the formation of a spotted sea surface temperature pattern.

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Il-Ju Moon
,
Isaac Ginis
,
Tetsu Hara
, and
Biju Thomas

Abstract

A new bulk parameterization of the air–sea momentum flux at high wind speeds is proposed based on coupled wave–wind model simulations for 10 tropical cyclones that occurred in the Atlantic Ocean during 1998–2003. The new parameterization describes how the roughness length increases linearly with wind speed and the neutral drag coefficient tends to level off at high wind speeds. The proposed parameterization is then tested on real hurricanes using the operational Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) coupled hurricane–ocean prediction model. The impact of the new parameterization on the hurricane prediction is mainly found in increased maximum surface wind speeds, while it does not appreciably affect the hurricane central pressure prediction. This helps to improve the GFDL model–predicted wind–pressure relationship in strong hurricanes. Attempts are made to provide physical explanations as to why the reduced drag coefficient affects surface wind speeds but not the central pressure in hurricanes.

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

Abstract

Tropical cyclones are fueled by the air–sea heat flux, which is reduced when the ocean surface cools due to mixed layer deepening and upwelling. Wave-driven Langmuir turbulence can significantly modify these processes. This study investigates the impact of sea-state-dependent Langmuir turbulence on the three-dimensional ocean response to a tropical cyclone in coupled wave–ocean simulations. The Stokes drift is computed from the simulated wave spectrum using the WAVEWATCH III wave model and passed to the three-dimensional Princeton Ocean Model. The Langmuir turbulence impact is included in the vertical mixing of the ocean model by adding the Stokes drift to the shear of the vertical mean current and by including Langmuir turbulence enhancements to the K-profile parameterization (KPP) scheme. Results are assessed by comparing simulations with explicit (sea-state dependent) and implicit (independent of sea state) Langmuir turbulence parameterizations, as well as with turbulence driven by shear alone. The results demonstrate that the sea-state-dependent Langmuir turbulence parameterization significantly modifies the three-dimensional ocean response to a tropical cyclone. This is due to the reduction of upwelling and horizontal advection where the near-surface currents are reduced by Langmuir turbulence. The implicit scheme not only misses the impact of sea-state dependence on the surface cooling, but it also misrepresents the impact of the Langmuir turbulence on the Eulerian advection. This suggests that explicitly resolving the sea-state-dependent Langmuir turbulence will lead to increased accuracy in predicting the ocean response in coupled tropical cyclone–ocean models.

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