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Anthony J. Wimmers and Christopher S. Velden

Abstract

An improved version of the Automated Rotational Center Hurricane Eye Retrieval (ARCHER) tropical cyclone (TC) center-fixing algorithm, introduced here as “ARCHER-2,” is presented with a characterization of its accuracy and precision and a comparison with alternative methods. The algorithm is calibrated for 37- and 85–92-GHz microwave imagers; geostationary imagery at visible, near-infrared, and longwave infrared window channels; and scatterometer ambiguities. In addition to a center fix, ARCHER-2 produces a quantitative estimate of expected error that can be used automatically or manually to evaluate the suitability of a result. The median center-fix error ranges from 24 (using scatterometer) to 49 (using infrared window) km relative to the National Hurricane Center best track. Multisatellite, multisensor results can also be used together to produce a TC-track estimate that selects from the best of all of the available imagery in the ancillary “ARCHER-Track” product. The median error of ARCHER-Track varies between 17 and 38 km, depending on TC intensity and data latency. The bias of the product’s expected error varies between 0% and 12%, which translates to an average of only 4 km. When compared with operational, subjective center-fix estimates, the ARCHER-Track approach improves on 29%–43% of these cases at the tropical-depression and tropical-storm stages, at which further assistance is typically sought. This result demonstrates that ARCHER-2 and ARCHER-Track can complement and accelerate operational forecasting where needed and can furnish other automated TC-analysis methods with well-characterized center-fix information.

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Anthony Wimmers, Christopher Velden, and Joshua H. Cossuth

Abstract

A deep learning convolutional neural network model is used to explore the possibilities of estimating tropical cyclone (TC) intensity from satellite images in the 37- and 85–92-GHz bands. The model, called “DeepMicroNet,” has unique properties such as a probabilistic output, the ability to operate from partial scans, and resiliency to imprecise TC center fixes. The 85–92-GHz band is the more influential data source in the model, with 37 GHz adding a marginal benefit. Training the model on global best track intensities produces model estimates precise enough to replicate known best track intensity biases when compared to aircraft reconnaissance observations. Model root-mean-square error (RMSE) is 14.3 kt (1 kt ≈ 0.5144 m s−1) compared to two years of independent best track records, but this improves to an RMSE of 10.6 kt when compared to the higher-standard aircraft reconnaissance-aided best track dataset, and to 9.6 kt compared to the reconnaissance-aided best track when using the higher-resolution TRMM TMI and Aqua AMSR-E microwave observations only. A shortage of training and independent testing data for category 5 TCs leaves the results at this intensity range inconclusive. Based on this initial study, the application of deep learning to TC intensity analysis holds tremendous promise for further development with more advanced methodologies and expanded training datasets.

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Anthony J. Wimmers and Christopher S. Velden

Abstract

Precise center-fixing of tropical cyclones (TCs) is critical for operational forecasting, intensity estimation, and visualization. Current procedures are usually performed with manual input from a human analyst, using multispectral satellite imagery as the primary tools. While adequate in many cases, subjective interpretation can often lead to variance in the estimated center positions. In this paper an objective, robust algorithm is presented for resolving the rotational center of TCs: the Automated Rotational Center Hurricane Eye Retrieval (ARCHER). The algorithm finds the center of rotation using spirally oriented brightness temperature gradients in the TC banding patterns in combination with gradients along the ring-shaped edge of a possible eye. It is calibrated and validated using 85–92-GHz passive microwave imagery because of this frequency’s relative ubiquity in TC applications; however, similar versions of ARCHER are also shown to work effectively with other satellite imagery of TCs. In TC cases with estimated low to moderate vertical wind shear, the accuracy (RMSE) of the ARCHER estimated center positions is 17 km (9 km for category 1–5 hurricanes). In cases with estimated high vertical shear, the accuracy of the ARCHER estimated center positions is 31 km (21 km for category 2–5 hurricanes).

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Anthony J. Wimmers and Christopher S. Velden

Satellite-based passive microwave imagery of tropical cyclones (TCs) is an invaluable resource for assessing the organization and evolution of convective structures in TCs when often no other comparable observations exist. However, the current constellation of low-Earth-orbiting environmental satellites that can effectively image TCs in the microwave range make only semirandom passes over TC targets, roughly every 3 - 6 h, but vary from less than 30 min to more than 25 h between passes. These irregular time gaps hamper the ability of analysts/forecasters to easily incorporate these data into a diagnosis of the state of the TC. To address this issue, we have developed a family of algorithms called Morphed Integrated Microwave Imagery at the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (MIMIC) to create synthetic “morphed” images that utilize the observed imagery to fill in the time gaps and present time-continuous animations of tropical cyclones and their environment. MIMIC-TC is a product that presents a storm-centered 15-min-resolution animation of microwave imagery in the ice-scattering range (85–92 GHz), which can be interpreted very much like a ground-based radar animation. A second product, MIMIC-IR, animates a tropical cyclone-retrieved precipitation field layered over geostationary infrared imagery. These tools allow forecasters and analysts to use microwave imagery to follow trends in a tropical cyclone's structure more efficiently and effectively, which can result in higher-confidence short-term intensity forecasts.

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Anthony J. Wimmers and Christopher S. Velden

Abstract

Conventional methods of viewing and combining retrieved geophysical fields from polar-orbiting satellites often complicate the work of end users because of the erratic time differences between overpasses, the significant time gaps between elements of a composite image, or simply the different requirements for interpretation between contributing instruments. However, it is possible to mitigate these issues for any number of retrieved quantities in which the tracer lifetime exceeds the sampling time. This paper presents a method that uses “advective blending” to create high-fidelity composites of data from polar-orbiting satellites at high temporal resolution, including a characterization of error as a function of time gap between satellite overpasses. The method is especially effective for tracers with lifetimes of longer than 7 h. Examples are presented using microwave-based retrievals of total precipitable water (TPW) over the ocean, from the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) Morphed Integrated Microwave Imagery at CIMSS TPW product (MIMIC-TPW). The mean average error of a global 0.25° × 0.25° product at 1-h resolution is 0.5–2 mm, which is very reasonable for most applications.

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Kenneth R. Knapp, Christopher S. Velden, and Anthony J. Wimmers

Abstract

Intense tropical cyclones (TCs) generally produce a cloud-free center with calm winds, called the eye. The Automated Rotational Center Hurricane Eye Retrieval (ARCHER) algorithm is used to analyze Hurricane Satellite (HURSAT) B1 infrared satellite imagery data for storms occurring globally from 1982 to 2015. HURSAT B1 data provide 3-hourly observations of TCs. The result is a 34-yr climatology of eye location and size. During that time period, eyes are identified in about 13% of all infrared images and slightly more than half of all storms produced an eye. Those that produce an eye have (on average) 30 h of eye scenes. Hurricane Ioke (1992) had the most eye images (98, which is 12 complete days with an eye). The median wind speed of a system with an eye is 97 kt (50 m s−1) [cf. 35 kt (18 m s−1) for those without an eye]. Eyes are much more frequent in the Northern Hemisphere (particularly in the western Pacific) but eyes are larger in the Southern Hemisphere. The regions where eyes occur are expanding poleward, thus expanding the area at risk of TC-related damage. Also, eye scene occurrence can provide an objective measure of TC activity in place of those based on maximum wind speeds, which can be affected by available observations and forecast agency practices.

Open access
Anthony Wimmers, Sarah Griffin, Jordan Gerth, Scott Bachmeier, and Scott Lindstrom

Abstract

This paper introduces a method of image filtering for viewing gravity waves in satellite imagery, which is particularly timely to the advent of the next-generation Advanced Himawari Imager (AHI) and the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI). Applying a “high pass” filter to the upper-troposphere water vapor channel reveals sub-Kelvin-degree variations in brightness temperature that depict an abundance of gravity wave activity at the AHI/ABI sensitivity. Three examples demonstrate that this high-pass product can be exploited in a forecasting setting to identify possible varieties of turbulence-prone gravity waves that either 1) move roughly orthogonally to the apparent background flow or 2) produce interference as separate wave packets pass through the same location.

Open access
John L. Cintineo, Michael J. Pavolonis, Justin M. Sieglaff, Anthony Wimmers, Jason Brunner, and Willard Bellon

Abstract

Intense thunderstorms threaten life and property, impact aviation, and are a challenging forecast problem, particularly without precipitation-sensing radar data. Trained forecasters often look for features in geostationary satellite images such as rapid cloud growth, strong and persistent overshooting tops, U- or V-shaped patterns in storm-top temperature (and associated above-anvil cirrus plumes), thermal couplets, intricate texturing in cloud albedo (e.g., “bubbling” cloud tops), cloud-top divergence, spatial and temporal trends in lightning, and other nuances to identify intense thunderstorms. In this paper, a machine-learning algorithm was employed to automatically learn and extract salient features and patterns in geostationary satellite data for the prediction of intense convection. Namely, a convolutional neural network (CNN) was trained on 0.64-μm reflectance and 10.35-μm brightness temperature from the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) and flash-extent density (FED) from the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) on board GOES-16. Using a training dataset consisting of over 220 000 human-labeled satellite images, the CNN learned pertinent features that are known to be associated with intense convection and skillfully discriminated between intense and ordinary convection. The CNN also learned a more nuanced feature associated with intense convection—strong infrared brightness temperature gradients near cloud edges in the vicinity of the main updraft. A successive-permutation test ranked the most important predictors as follows: 1) ABI 10.35-μm brightness temperature, 2) ABI GLM flash-extent density, and 3) ABI 0.64-μm reflectance. The CNN model can provide forecasters with quantitative information that often foreshadows the occurrence of severe weather, day or night, over the full range of instrument-scan modes.

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Christopher M. Rozoff, Christopher S. Velden, John Kaplan, James P. Kossin, and Anthony J. Wimmers

Abstract

The probabilistic prediction of tropical cyclone (TC) rapid intensification (RI) in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Ocean basins is examined here using a series of logistic regression models trained on environmental and infrared satellite-derived features. The environmental predictors are based on averaged values over a 24-h period following the forecast time. These models are compared against equivalent models enhanced with additional TC predictors created from passive satellite microwave imagery (MI). Leave-one-year-out cross validation on the developmental dataset shows that the inclusion of MI-based predictors yields more skillful RI models for a variety of RI and intensity thresholds. Compared with the baseline forecast skill of the non-MI-based RI models, the relative skill improvements from including MI-based predictors range from 10.6% to 44.9%. Using archived real-time data during the period 2004–13, evaluation of simulated real-time models is also carried out. Unlike in the model development stage, the simulated real-time setting involves using Global Forecast System forecasts for the non-satellite-based predictors instead of “perfect” observational-based predictors in the developmental data. In this case, the MI-based RI models still generate superior skill to the baseline RI models lacking MI-based predictors. The relative improvements gained in adding MI-based predictors are most notable in the Atlantic, where the non-MI versions of the models suffer acutely from the use of imperfect real-time data. In the Atlantic, relative skill improvements provided from the inclusion of MI-based predictors range from 53.5% to 103.0%. The eastern Pacific relative improvements are less impressive but are still uniformly positive.

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John R. Mecikalski, Wayne F. Feltz, John J. Murray, David B. Johnson, Kristopher M. Bedka, Sarah T. Bedka, Anthony J. Wimmers, Michael Pavolonis, Todd A. Berendes, Julie Haggerty, Pat Minnis, Ben Bernstein, and Earle Williams

Advanced Satellite Aviation Weather Products (ASAP) was jointly initiated by the NASA Applied Sciences Program and the NASA Aviation Safety and Security Program in 2002. The initiative provides a valuable bridge for transitioning new and existing satellite information and products into Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aviation Weather Research Program (AWRP) efforts to increase the safety and efficiency of project addresses hazards such as convective weather, turbulence (clear air and cloud induced), icing, and volcanic ash, and is particularly applicable in extending the monitoring of weather over data-sparse areas, such as the oceans and other observationally remote locations.

ASAP research is conducted by scientists from NASA, the FAA AWRP's Product Development Teams (PDT), NOAA, and the academic research community. In this paper we provide a summary of activities since the inception of ASAP that emphasize the use of current-generation satellite technologies toward observing and mitigating specified aviation hazards. A brief overview of future ASAP goals is also provided in light of the next generation of satellite sensors (e.g., hyperspectral; high spatial resolution) to become operational in the 2007–18 time frame.

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