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Jonathan R. Moskaitis

Abstract

Deterministic predictions of tropical cyclone (TC) intensity from operational forecast systems traditionally have been verified with a summary accuracy measure (e.g., mean absolute error). Since the forecast system development process is coupled to the verification procedure, it follows that TC intensity forecast systems have been developed with the goal of producing predictions that optimize the chosen summary accuracy measure. Here, the consequences of this development process for the quality of the resultant forecasts are diagnosed through a distributions-oriented (DO) verification of operational TC intensity forecasts. DO verification techniques examine the full relationship between a set of forecasts and the corresponding set of observations (i.e., forecast quality), rather than just the accuracy attribute of that relationship.

The DO verification results reveal similar first-order characteristics in the quality of predictions from four TC intensity forecast systems. These characteristics are shown to be consistent with the theoretical response of a forecast system to the imposed goal of summary accuracy measure optimization: production of forecasts that asymptote with lead time to the central tendency of the observed distribution. While such forecasts perform well with respect to the accuracy, unconditional bias, and type I conditional bias attributes of forecast quality, they perform poorly with respect to type II conditional bias. Thus, it is clear that optimization of forecast accuracy is not equivalent to optimization of forecast quality. Ultimately, developers of deterministic forecast systems must take care to employ a verification procedure that promotes good performance with respect to the most desired attributes of forecast quality.

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William A. Komaromi, Patrick A. Reinecke, James D. Doyle, and Jonathan R. Moskaitis

Abstract

The 11-member Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System-Tropical Cyclones (COAMPS-TC) ensemble has been developed by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) to produce probabilistic forecasts of tropical cyclone (TC) track, intensity and structure. All members run with a storm-following inner grid at convection-permitting 4-km horizontal resolution. The COAMPS-TC ensemble is constructed via a combination of perturbations to initial and boundary conditions, the initial vortex, and model physics to account for a variety of different sources of uncertainty that affect track and intensity forecasts. Unlike global model ensembles, which do a reasonable job capturing track uncertainty but not intensity, mesoscale ensembles such as the COAMPS-TC ensemble are necessary to provide a realistic intensity forecast spectrum. The initial and boundary condition perturbations are responsible for generating the majority of track spread at all lead times, as well as the intensity spread from 36 to 120 h. The vortex and physics perturbations are necessary to produce meaningful spread in the intensity prediction from 0 to 36 h. In a large sample of forecasts from 2014 to 2017, the ensemble-mean track and intensity forecast is superior to the unperturbed control forecast at all lead times, demonstrating a clear advantage to running an ensemble versus a deterministic forecast. The spread–skill relationship of the ensemble is also examined, and is found to be very well calibrated for track, but is underdispersive for intensity. Using a mixture of lateral boundary conditions derived from different global models is found to improve upon the spread–skill score for intensity, but it is hypothesized that additional physics perturbations will be necessary to achieve realistic ensemble spread.

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Eric A. Hendricks, Yi Jin, Jonathan R. Moskaitis, James D. Doyle, Melinda S. Peng, Chun-Chieh Wu, and Hung-Chi Kuo

Abstract

High-impact Typhoon Morakot (2009) was investigated using a multiply nested regional tropical cyclone prediction model. In the numerical simulations, the horizontal grid spacing, cumulus parameterizations, and microphysical parameterizations were varied, and the sensitivity of the track, intensity, and quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPFs) was examined. With regard to horizontal grid spacing, it is found that convective-permitting (5 km) resolution is necessary for a reasonably accurate QPF, while little benefit is gained through the use of a fourth domain at 1.67-km horizontal resolution. Significant sensitivity of the track forecast was found to the cumulus parameterization, which impacted the model QPFs. In particular, the simplified Arakawa–Schubert parameterization tended to erroneously regenerate the remnants of Tropical Storm Goni to the southwest of Morakot, affecting the large-scale steering flow and the track of Morakot. Strong sensitivity of the QPFs to the microphysical parameterization was found, with the track and intensity showing little sensitivity. It is also found that Morakot’s accumulated precipitation was reasonably predictable, with the control simulation producing an equitable threat score of 0.56 for the 3-day accumulated precipitation using a threshold of 500 mm. This high predictability of precipitation is due in part to more predictable large-scale and topographic forcing.

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David D. Flagg, James D. Doyle, Teddy R. Holt, Daniel P. Tyndall, Clark M. Amerault, Daniel Geiszler, Tracy Haack, Jonathan R. Moskaitis, Jason Nachamkin, and Daniel P. Eleuterio

Abstract

The Trident Warrior observational field campaign conducted off the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast in July 2013 included the deployment of an unmanned aerial system (UAS) with several payloads on board for atmospheric and oceanic observation. These UAS observations, spanning seven flights over 5 days in the lowest 1550 m above mean sea level, were assimilated into a three-dimensional variational data assimilation (DA) system [the Naval Research Laboratory Atmospheric Variational Data Assimilation System (NAVDAS)] used to generate analyses for a numerical weather prediction model [the Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS)] with a coupled ocean model [the Naval Research Laboratory Navy Coastal Ocean Model (NCOM)]. The impact of the assimilated UAS observations on short-term atmospheric prediction performance is evaluated and quantified. Observations collected from 50 radiosonde launches during the campaign adjacent to the UAS flight paths serve as model forecast verification. Experiments reveal a substantial reduction of model bias in forecast temperature and moisture profiles consistently throughout the campaign period due to the assimilation of UAS observations. The model error reduction is most substantial in the vicinity of the inversion at the top of the model-estimated boundary layer. Investigations reveal a consistent improvement to prediction of the vertical position, strength, and depth of the boundary layer inversion. The relative impact of UAS observations is explored further with experiments of systematic denial of data streams from the NAVDAS DA system and removal of individual measurement sources on the UAS platform.

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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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