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Heather M. Holbach and Mark A. Bourassa

Abstract

Tropical cyclogenesis in the eastern North Pacific (EPAC) basin is related to gap-wind-induced surface relative vorticity, the monsoon trough, and the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ). There are several gaps in the Central American mountains, on the eastern edge of the EPAC basin, through which wind can be funneled to generate surface wind jets (gap winds). This study focuses on gap winds that occur over the Gulf of Papagayo and Gulf of Tehuantepec. Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) 10-m equivalent neutral winds are used to identify gap wind events that occur during May through November of 2002–08. Dvorak fix locations, Gridded Satellite (GridSat) infrared (IR) data, and National Hurricane Center (NHC) tropical cyclone (TC) reports are used to track the disturbances during the study period. Surface vorticity is tracked using the QuikSCAT winds and the contribution of surface vorticity from the gap winds to the development of each disturbance is categorized as small, medium, or large. Cross-calibrated multiplatform surface wind data are used to verify the tracking of QuikSCAT-computed surface vorticity and to identify when the monsoon trough and the ITCZ are present. It is found that gap winds are present over the Gulf of Papagayo and Gulf of Tehuantepec for about 50% of the QuikSCAT coverage days and that these gap winds appear to contribute to the development of disturbances in the EPAC. Considerably more TCs form when the monsoon trough is present versus the ITCZ and the majority of the contributions from the gap winds also occur when the monsoon trough is present.

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Yangxing Zheng, M. M. Ali, and Mark A. Bourassa

Abstract

Indian summer monsoon rainfall (ISMR; June–September) has both temporal and spatial variability causing floods and droughts in different seasons and locations, leading to a strong or weak monsoon. Here, the authors present the contribution of all-India monthly, seasonal, and regional rainfall to the ISMR, with an emphasis on the strong and weak monsoons. Here, regional rainfall is restricted to the seasonal rainfall over four regions defined by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) primarily for the purpose of forecasting regional rainfall: northwest India (NWI), northeast India (NEI), central India (CI), and south peninsula India (SPIN). In this study, two rainfall datasets provided by IMD are used: 1) all-India monthly and seasonal (June–September) rainfall series for the entire Indian subcontinent as well as seasonal rainfall series for the four homogeneous regions for the period 1901–2013 and 2) the latest daily gridded rainfall data for the period 1951–2014, which is used for assessment at the extent to which the four regions are appropriate for the intended purpose. Rainfall during July–August contributes the most to the total seasonal rainfall, regardless of whether it is a strong or weak monsoon. Although NEI has the maximum area-weighted rainfall, its contribution is the least toward determining a strong or weak monsoon. It is the rainfall in the remaining three regions (NWI, CI, and SPIN) that controls whether an ISMR is strong or weak. Compared to monthly rainfall, regional rainfall dominates the strong or weak rainfall periods.

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Heather M. Holbach, Eric W. Uhlhorn, and Mark A. Bourassa

Abstract

Wind and wave-breaking directions are investigated as potential sources of an asymmetry identified in off-nadir remotely sensed measurements of ocean surface brightness temperatures obtained by the Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer (SFMR) in high-wind conditions, including in tropical cyclones. Surface wind speed, which dynamically couples the atmosphere and ocean, can be inferred from SFMR ocean surface brightness temperature measurements using a radiative transfer model and an inversion algorithm. The accuracy of the ocean surface brightness temperature to wind speed calibration relies on accurate knowledge of the surface variables that are influencing the ocean surface brightness temperature. Previous studies have identified wind direction signals in horizontally polarized radiometer measurements in low to moderate (0–20 m s−1) wind conditions over a wide range of incidence angles. This study finds that the azimuthal asymmetry in the off-nadir SFMR brightness temperature measurements is also likely a function of wind direction and extends the results of these previous studies to high-wind conditions. The off-nadir measurements from the SFMR provide critical data for improving the understanding of the relationships between brightness temperature, surface wave–breaking direction, and surface wind vectors at various incidence angles, which is extremely useful for the development of geophysical model functions for instruments like the Hurricane Imaging Radiometer (HIRAD).

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Steven M. DiNapoli, Mark A. Bourassa, and Mark D. Powell

Abstract

The Hurricane Research Division (HRD) Real-time Hurricane Wind Analysis System (H*Wind) is a software application used by NOAA’s HRD to create a gridded tropical cyclone wind analysis based on a wide range of observations. These analyses are used in both forecasting and research applications. Although mean bias and RMS errors are listed, H*Wind lacks robust uncertainty information that considers the contributions of random observation errors, relative biases between observation types, temporal drift resulting from combining nonsimultaneous measurements into a single analysis, and smoothing and interpolation errors introduced by the H*Wind analysis. This investigation seeks to estimate the total contributions of these sources, and thereby provide an overall uncertainty estimate for the H*Wind product.

A series of statistical analyses show that in general, the total uncertainty in the H*Wind product in hurricanes is approximately 6% near the storm center, increasing to nearly 13% near the tropical storm force wind radius. The H*Wind analysis algorithm is found to introduce a positive bias to the wind speeds near the storm center, where the analyzed wind speeds are enhanced to match the highest observations. In addition, spectral analyses are performed to ensure that the filter wavelength of the final analysis product matches user specifications. With increased knowledge of bias and uncertainty sources and their effects, researchers will have a better understanding of the uncertainty in the H*Wind product and can then judge the suitability of H*Wind for various research applications.

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P. J. Pegion, M. A. Bourassa, D. M. Legler, and J. J. O’Brien

Abstract

An objective technique is used to create regularly gridded daily “wind” fields from NASA scatterometer (NSCAT) observations for the Pacific Ocean north of 40°S. The objective technique is a combination of direct minimization, and cross validation with multigridding. The fields are created from the minimization of a cost function. The cost function is developed to maximize information from the observational data and minimize smoothing. Three constraints are in the cost function: a misfit to observations, a smoothing term, and a misfit of the curl. The second and third terms are relative to a background field. The influence of the background field is controlled by weights on the smoothing constraints. Weights are objectively derived by the method of cross validation. Cross validation is a process that removes observations from the input to the cost function and determines tuning parameters (weights) by the insensitivity of the removed observations to the output field. This method is computationally expensive; thus the technique of multigridding is incorporated into cross validation. Multigridding solves for the weights by cross validation on a coarse grid, then these weights are used to determine pseudostress on the original fine grid. This allows for the practical application of cross validation with only modest computational resources required.

Daily pseudostress fields are generated on a 1° × 1° resolution grid for the NSCAT period. These objectively derived fields are compared to independent data sources (NCEP and Florida State University winds). The kinetic energy of the NSCAT fields exceeds that of the independent NCEP reanalysis and is similar to observations. Pseudostresses for the equatorial cold tongue region (15°S–15°N, 180°–90°W) are extracted from the objectively derived NSCAT fields and a complex empirical orthogonal function (CEOF) analysis is performed. The analysis shows a large amount of variability in intraseasonal timescales for the Southern Hemisphere trade winds. This variability is supported by in situ observations.

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Michelle M. Gierach, Mark A. Bourassa, Philip Cunningham, James J. O’Brien, and Paul D. Reasor

Abstract

Ocean wind vectors from the SeaWinds scatterometer aboard the Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) satellite and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) imagery are used to develop an objective technique that can detect and monitor tropical disturbances associated with the early stages of tropical cyclogenesis in the Atlantic basin. The technique is based on identification of surface vorticity and wind speed signatures that exceed certain threshold magnitudes, with vorticity averaged over an appropriate spatial scale. The threshold values applied herein are determined from the precursors of 15 tropical cyclones during the 1999–2004 Atlantic Ocean hurricane seasons using research-quality QuikSCAT data. The choice of these thresholds is complicated by the lack of suitable validation data. The combination of GOES and QuikSCAT data is used to track the tropical disturbances that are precursors to the 15 tropical cyclones. This combination of data can be used to test detection but is not as easily used to examine false alarms. Tropical disturbances are found for these cases within a range of 19–101 h before classification as tropical cyclones by the National Hurricane Center. The 15 cases are further subdivided based upon their origination source (i.e., easterly wave, upper-level cutoff low, stagnant frontal zone, etc.). The primary focus centers on the cases associated with tropical waves, because these waves account for the majority of all Atlantic tropical cyclones. The detection technique illustrates the ability to track these tropical disturbances from near the coast of Africa. Analysis of the pretropical cyclone (pre-TC) tracks for these cases depicts stages, related to wind speed and precipitation, in the evolution of a tropical disturbance within an easterly wave to a tropical cyclone.

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Shawn R. Smith, Jacques Servain, David M. Legler, James N . Stricherz, Mark A. Bourassa, and James J. O'brien

Quality wind stress fields are desired for a wide range of oceanographic and atmospheric studies. An overview is presented of the monthly quick-look and research-quality tropical ocean wind (pseudostress) products produced for the Pacific and Indian Oceans by The Florida State University (FSU) and for the Atlantic Ocean by the French Institut de Recherche pour le Développement [IRD; formerly Institut Français de Recherche Scientifique pour le Développement en Coopération (ORSTOM)]. This review article briefly discusses the current state of tropical wind stress products, including an introduction to the new objective FSU analysis technique and advancements in the IRD method. The primary focus is a detailed discussion of how the FSU and IRD pseudostress fields evolved from early subjective in situ analysis techniques. The historical retrospective introduces the scientific motivation, development, and methodology for each product. Examples of the wide range of scientific research and operational applications of the FSU and IRD products are provided.

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J. A. Curry, A. Bentamy, M. A. Bourassa, D. Bourras, E. F. Bradley, M. Brunke, S. Castro, S. H. Chou, C. A. Clayson, W. J. Emery, L. Eymard, C. W. Fairall, M. Kubota, B. Lin, W. Perrie, R. A. Reeder, I. A. Renfrew, W. B. Rossow, J. Schulz, S. R. Smith, P. J. Webster, G. A. Wick, and X. Zeng

High-resolution surface fluxes over the global ocean are needed to evaluate coupled atmosphere–ocean models and weather forecasting models, provide surface forcing for ocean models, understand the regional and temporal variations of the exchange of heat between the atmosphere and ocean, and provide a large-scale context for field experiments. Under the auspices of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) Radiation Panel, the SEAFLUX Project has been initiated to investigate producing a high-resolution satellite-based dataset of surface turbulent fluxes over the global oceans to complement the existing products for surface radiation fluxes and precipitation. The SEAFLUX Project includes the following elements: a library of in situ data, with collocated satellite data to be used in the evaluation and improvement of global flux products; organized intercomparison projects, to evaluate and improve bulk flux models and determination from the satellite of the input parameters; and coordinated evaluation of the flux products in the context of applications, such as forcing ocean models and evaluation of coupled atmosphere–ocean models. The objective of this paper is to present an overview of the status of global ocean surface flux products, the methodology being used by SEAFLUX, and the prospects for improvement of satellite-derived flux products.

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Mark A. Bourassa, Sarah T. Gille, Cecilia Bitz, David Carlson, Ivana Cerovecki, Carol Anne Clayson, Meghan F. Cronin, Will M. Drennan, Chris W. Fairall, Ross N. Hoffman, Gudrun Magnusdottir, Rachel T. Pinker, Ian A. Renfrew, Mark Serreze, Kevin Speer, Lynne D. Talley, and Gary A. Wick

Polar regions have great sensitivity to climate forcing; however, understanding of the physical processes coupling the atmosphere and ocean in these regions is relatively poor. Improving our knowledge of high-latitude surface fluxes will require close collaboration among meteorologists, oceanographers, ice physicists, and climatologists, and between observationalists and modelers, as well as new combinations of in situ measurements and satellite remote sensing. This article describes the deficiencies in our current state of knowledge about air–sea surface fluxes in high latitudes, the sensitivity of various high-latitude processes to changes in surface fluxes, and the scientific requirements for surface fluxes at high latitudes. We inventory the reasons, both logistical and physical, why existing flux products do not meet these requirements. Capturing an annual cycle in fluxes requires that instruments function through long periods of cold polar darkness, often far from support services, in situations subject to icing and extreme wave conditions. Furthermore, frequent cloud cover at high latitudes restricts the availability of surface and atmospheric data from visible and infrared (IR) wavelength satellite sensors. Recommendations are made for improving high-latitude fluxes, including 1) acquiring more in situ observations, 2) developing improved satellite-flux-observing capabilities, 3) making observations and flux products more accessible, and 4) encouraging flux intercomparisons.

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C. A. McLinden, A. E. Bourassa, S. Brohede, M. Cooper, D. A. Degenstein, W. J. F. Evans, R. L. Gattinger, C. S. Haley, E. J. Llewellyn, N. D. Lloyd, P. Loewen, R. V. Martin, J. C. McConnell, I. C. McDade, D. Murtagh, L. Rieger, C. von Savigny, P. E. Sheese, C. E. Sioris, B. Solheim, and K. Strong

On 20 February 2001, a converted Russian ICBM delivered Odin, a small Swedish satellite, into low Earth orbit. One of the sensors onboard is a small Canadian spectrometer called OSIRIS. By measuring scattered sunlight from Earth's horizon, or limb, OSIRIS is able to deduce the abundance of trace gases and particles from the upper troposphere into the lower thermosphere. Designed and built on a modest budget, OSIRIS has exceeded not only its 2-yr lifetime but also all expectations. With more than a decade of continuous data, OSIRIS has recorded over 1.8 million limb scans. The complexities associated with unraveling scattered light in order to convert OSIRIS spectra into highquality geophysical profiles have forced the OSIRIS team to develop leading-edge algorithms and computer models. These profiles are being used to help address many science questions, including the coupling of atmospheric regions (e.g., stratosphere–troposphere exchange) and the budgets and trends in ozone, nitrogen, bromine, and other species. One specific example is the distribution and abundance of upper-tropospheric, lightning-produced reactive nitrogen and ozone. Arguably OSIRIS's most important contributions come from its aerosol measurements, including detection and characterization of subvisual cirrus and polar stratospheric and mesospheric clouds. OSIRIS also provides a unique view of the stratospheric aerosol layer, and it is able to identify and track perturbations from volcanic activity and biomass burning.

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