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Robert Rogers, Sim Aberson, Altug Aksoy, Bachir Annane, Michael Black, Joseph Cione, Neal Dorst, Jason Dunion, John Gamache, Stan Goldenberg, Sundararaman Gopalakrishnan, John Kaplan, Bradley Klotz, Sylvie Lorsolo, Frank Marks, Shirley Murillo, Mark Powell, Paul Reasor, Kathryn Sellwood, Eric Uhlhorn, Tomislava Vukicevic, Jun Zhang, and Xuejin Zhang

An update of the progress achieved as part of the NOAA Intensity Forecasting Experiment (IFEX) is provided. Included is a brief summary of the noteworthy aircraft missions flown in the years since 2005, the first year IFEX flights occurred, as well as a description of the research and development activities that directly address the three primary IFEX goals: 1) collect observations that span the tropical cyclone (TC) life cycle in a variety of environments for model initialization and evaluation; 2) develop and refine measurement strategies and technologies that provide improved real-time monitoring of TC intensity, structure, and environment; and 3) improve the understanding of physical processes important in intensity change for a TC at all stages of its life cycle. Such activities include the real-time analysis and transmission of Doppler radar measurements; numerical model and data assimilation advancements; characterization of tropical cyclone composite structure across multiple scales, from vortex scale to turbulence scale; improvements in statistical prediction of rapid intensification; and studies specifically targeting tropical cyclogenesis, extratropical transition, and the impact of environmental humidity on TC structure and evolution. While progress in TC intensity forecasting remains challenging, the activities described here provide some hope for improvement.

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James D. Doyle, Jonathan R. Moskaitis, Joel W. Feldmeier, Ronald J. Ferek, Mark Beaubien, Michael M. Bell, Daniel L. Cecil, Robert L. Creasey, Patrick Duran, Russell L. Elsberry, William A. Komaromi, John Molinari, David R. Ryglicki, Daniel P. Stern, Christopher S. Velden, Xuguang Wang, Todd Allen, Bradford S. Barrett, Peter G. Black, Jason P. Dunion, Kerry A. Emanuel, Patrick A. Harr, Lee Harrison, Eric A. Hendricks, Derrick Herndon, William Q. Jeffries, Sharanya J. Majumdar, James A. Moore, Zhaoxia Pu, Robert F. Rogers, Elizabeth R. Sanabia, Gregory J. Tripoli, and Da-Lin Zhang

Abstract

Tropical cyclone (TC) outflow and its relationship to TC intensity change and structure were investigated in the Office of Naval Research Tropical Cyclone Intensity (TCI) field program during 2015 using dropsondes deployed from the innovative new High-Definition Sounding System (HDSS) and remotely sensed observations from the Hurricane Imaging Radiometer (HIRAD), both on board the NASA WB-57 that flew in the lower stratosphere. Three noteworthy hurricanes were intensively observed with unprecedented horizontal resolution: Joaquin in the Atlantic and Marty and Patricia in the eastern North Pacific. Nearly 800 dropsondes were deployed from the WB-57 flight level of ∼60,000 ft (∼18 km), recording atmospheric conditions from the lower stratosphere to the surface, while HIRAD measured the surface winds in a 50-km-wide swath with a horizontal resolution of 2 km. Dropsonde transects with 4–10-km spacing through the inner cores of Hurricanes Patricia, Joaquin, and Marty depict the large horizontal and vertical gradients in winds and thermodynamic properties. An innovative technique utilizing GPS positions of the HDSS reveals the vortex tilt in detail not possible before. In four TCI flights over Joaquin, systematic measurements of a major hurricane’s outflow layer were made at high spatial resolution for the first time. Dropsondes deployed at 4-km intervals as the WB-57 flew over the center of Hurricane Patricia reveal in unprecedented detail the inner-core structure and upper-tropospheric outflow associated with this historic hurricane. Analyses and numerical modeling studies are in progress to understand and predict the complex factors that influenced Joaquin’s and Patricia’s unusual intensity changes.

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