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Robert L. Molinari, David Battisti, Kirk Bryan, and John Walsh

The Atlantic Climate Change Program (ACCP) is a component of NOAA's Climate and Global Change Program. ACCP is directed at determining the role of the thermohaline circulation of the Atlantic Ocean on global atmospheric climate. Efforts and progress in four ACCP elements are described. Advances include 1) descriptions of decadal and longer-term variability in the coupled ocean–atmosphere–ice system of the North Atlantic; 2) development of tools needed to perform long-term model runs of coupled simulations of North Atlantic air–sea interaction; 3) definition of mean and time-dependent characteristics of the thermohaline circulation; and 4) development of monitoring strategies for various elements of the thermohaline circulation.

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Junhong (June) Wang, Kate Young, Terry Hock, Dean Lauritsen, Dalton Behringer, Michael Black, Peter G. Black, James Franklin, Jeff Halverson, John Molinari, Leon Nguyen, Tony Reale, Jeff Smith, Bomin Sun, Qing Wang, and Jun A. Zhang


A GPS dropsonde is a scientific instrument deployed from research and operational aircraft that descends through the atmosphere by a parachute. The dropsonde provides high-quality, high-vertical-resolution profiles of atmospheric pressure, temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and direction from the aircraft flight level to the surface over oceans and remote areas. Since 1996, GPS dropsondes have been routinely dropped during hurricane reconnaissance and surveillance flights to help predict hurricane track and intensity. From 1996 to 2012, NOAA has dropped 13,681 dropsondes inside hurricane eye walls or in the surrounding environment for 120 tropical cyclones (TCs). All NOAA dropsonde data have been collected, reformatted to one format, and consistently and carefully quality controlled using state-of-the-art quality-control (QC) tools. Three value-added products, the vertical air velocity and the radius and azimuth angle of each dropsonde location, are generated and added to the dataset. As a result, a long-term (1996–2012), high-quality, high-vertical-resolution (∼5–15 m) GPS dropsonde dataset is created and made readily available for public access. The dropsonde data collected during hurricane reconnaissance and surveillance flights have improved TC-track and TC-intensity forecasts significantly. The impact of dropsonde data on hurricane studies is summarized. The scientific applications of this long-term dropsonde dataset are highlighted, including characterizing TC structures, studying TC environmental interactions, identifying surface-based ducts in the hurricane environment that affect electromagnetic wave propagation, and validating satellite temperature and humidity profiling products.

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Wayman E. Baker, George D. Emmitt, Franklin Robertson, Robert M. Atlas, John E. Molinari, David A. Bowdle, Jan Paegle, R. Michael Hardesty, Robert T. Menzies, T. N. Krishnamurti, Robert A. Brown, Madison J. Post, John R. Anderson, Andrew C. Lorenc, and James McElroy

The deployment of a space-based Doppler lidar would provide information that is fundamental to advancing the understanding and prediction of weather and climate.

This paper reviews the concepts of wind measurement by Doppler lidar, highlights the results of some observing system simulation experiments with lidar winds, and discusses the important advances in earth system science anticipated with lidar winds.

Observing system simulation experiments, conducted using two different general circulation models, have shown 1) that there is a significant improvement in the forecast accuracy over the Southern Hemisphere and tropical oceans resulting from the assimilation of simulated satellite wind data, and 2) that wind data are significantly more effective than temperature or moisture data in controlling analysis error. Because accurate wind observations are currently almost entirely unavailable for the vast majority of tropical cyclones worldwide, lidar winds have the potential to substantially improve tropical cyclone forecasts. Similarly, to improve water vapor flux divergence calculations, a direct measure of the ageostrophic wind is needed since the present level of uncertainty cannot be reduced with better temperature and moisture soundings alone.

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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


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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