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Sarah C. Jones, Patrick A. Harr, Jim Abraham, Lance F. Bosart, Peter J. Bowyer, Jenni L. Evans, Deborah E. Hanley, Barry N. Hanstrum, Robert E. Hart, François Lalaurette, Mark R. Sinclair, Roger K. Smith, and Chris Thorncroft

Abstract

A significant number of tropical cyclones move into the midlatitudes and transform into extratropical cyclones. This process is generally referred to as extratropical transition (ET). During ET a cyclone frequently produces intense rainfall and strong winds and has increased forward motion, so that such systems pose a serious threat to land and maritime activities. Changes in the structure of a system as it evolves from a tropical to an extratropical cyclone during ET necessitate changes in forecast strategies. In this paper a brief climatology of ET is given and the challenges associated with forecasting extratropical transition are described in terms of the forecast variables (track, intensity, surface winds, precipitation) and their impacts (flooding, bush fires, ocean response). The problems associated with the numerical prediction of ET are discussed. A comprehensive review of the current understanding of the processes involved in ET is presented. Classifications of extratropical transition are described and potential vorticity thinking is presented as an aid to understanding ET. Further sections discuss the interaction between a tropical cyclone and the midlatitude environment, the role of latent heat release, convection and the underlying surface in ET, the structural changes due to frontogenesis, the mechanisms responsible for precipitation, and the energy budget during ET. Finally, a summary of the future directions for research into ET is given.

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Julia H. Keller, Christian M. Grams, Michael Riemer, Heather M. Archambault, Lance Bosart, James D. Doyle, Jenni L. Evans, Thomas J. Galarneau Jr., Kyle Griffin, Patrick A. Harr, Naoko Kitabatake, Ron McTaggart-Cowan, Florian Pantillon, Julian F. Quinting, Carolyn A. Reynolds, Elizabeth A. Ritchie, Ryan D. Torn, and Fuqing Zhang

Abstract

The extratropical transition (ET) of tropical cyclones often has an important impact on the nature and predictability of the midlatitude flow. This review synthesizes the current understanding of the dynamical and physical processes that govern this impact and highlights the relationship of downstream development during ET to high-impact weather, with a focus on downstream regions. It updates a previous review from 2003 and identifies new and emerging challenges and future research needs. First, the mechanisms through which the transitioning cyclone impacts the midlatitude flow in its immediate vicinity are discussed. This “direct impact” manifests in the formation of a jet streak and the amplification of a ridge directly downstream of the cyclone. This initial flow modification triggers or amplifies a midlatitude Rossby wave packet, which disperses the impact of ET into downstream regions (downstream impact) and may contribute to the formation of high-impact weather. Details are provided concerning the impact of ET on forecast uncertainty in downstream regions and on the impact of observations on forecast skill. The sources and characteristics of the following key features and processes that may determine the manifestation of the impact of ET on the midlatitude flow are discussed: the upper-tropospheric divergent outflow, mainly associated with latent heat release in the troposphere below, and the phasing between the transitioning cyclone and the midlatitude wave pattern. Improving the representation of diabatic processes during ET in models and a climatological assessment of the ET’s impact on downstream high-impact weather are examples for future research directions.

Open access
Duane E. Waliser, Mitchell W. Moncrieff, David Burridge, Andreas H. Fink, Dave Gochis, B. N. Goswami, Bin Guan, Patrick Harr, Julian Heming, Huang-Hsuing Hsu, Christian Jakob, Matt Janiga, Richard Johnson, Sarah Jones, Peter Knippertz, Jose Marengo, Hanh Nguyen, Mick Pope, Yolande Serra, Chris Thorncroft, Matthew Wheeler, Robert Wood, and Sandra Yuter

The representation of tropical convection remains a serious challenge to the skillfulness of our weather and climate prediction systems. To address this challenge, the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment (THORPEX) of the World Weather Research Programme (WWRP) are conducting a joint research activity consisting of a focus period approach along with an integrated research framework tailored to exploit the vast amounts of existing observations, expanding computational resources, and the development of new, high-resolution modeling frameworks. The objective of the Year of Tropical Convection (YOTC) is to use these constructs to advance the characterization, modeling, parameterization, and prediction of multiscale tropical convection, including relevant two-way interactions between tropical and extratropical systems. This article highlights the diverse array of scientifically interesting and socially important weather and climate events associated with the WCRP–WWRP/THORPEX YOTC period of interest: May 2008–April 2010. Notable during this 2-yr period was the change from cool to warm El Niño– Southern Oscillation (ENSO) states and the associated modulation of a wide range of smaller time- and space-scale tropical convection features. This period included a near-record-setting wet North American monsoon in 2008 and a very severe monsoon drought in India in 2009. There was also a plethora of tropical wave activity, including easterly waves, the Madden–Julian oscillation, and convectively coupled equatorial wave interactions. Numerous cases of high-impact rainfall events occurred along with notable features in the tropical cyclone record. The intent of this article is to highlight these features and phenomena, and in turn promote their interrogation via theory, observations, and models in concert with the YOTC program so that improved understanding and pre- dictions of tropical convection can be afforded.

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Stephen A. Cohn, Terry Hock, Philippe Cocquerez, Junhong Wang, Florence Rabier, David Parsons, Patrick Harr, Chun-Chieh Wu, Philippe Drobinski, Fatima Karbou, Stéphanie Vénel, André Vargas, Nadia Fourrié, Nathalie Saint-Ramond, Vincent Guidard, Alexis Doerenbecher, Huang-Hsiung Hsu, Po-Hsiung Lin, Ming-Dah Chou, Jean-Luc Redelsperger, Charlie Martin, Jack Fox, Nick Potts, Kathryn Young, and Hal Cole

Constellations of driftsonde systems— gondolas floating in the stratosphere and able to release dropsondes upon command— have so far been used in three major field experiments from 2006 through 2010. With them, high-quality, high-resolution, in situ atmospheric profiles were made over extended periods in regions that are otherwise very difficult to observe. The measurements have unique value for verifying and evaluating numerical weather prediction models and global data assimilation systems; they can be a valuable resource to validate data from remote sensing instruments, especially on satellites, but also airborne or ground-based remote sensors. These applications for models and remote sensors result in a powerful combination for improving data assimilation systems. Driftsondes also can support process studies in otherwise difficult locations—for example, to study factors that control the development or decay of a tropical disturbance, or to investigate the lower boundary layer over the interior Antarctic continent. The driftsonde system is now a mature and robust observing system that can be combined with flight-level data to conduct multidisciplinary research at heights well above that reached by current research aircraft. In this article we describe the development and capabilities of the driftsonde system, the exemplary science resulting from its use to date, and some future applications.

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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.

Open access