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Yung Y. Chao and Hendrik L. Tolman

Abstract

Unprecedented numbers of tropical cyclones occurred in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico in 2005. This provides a unique opportunity to evaluate the performance of two operational regional wave forecasting models at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). This study validates model predictions of the tropical cyclone–generated maximum significant wave height, simultaneous spectral peak wave period, and the time of occurrence against available buoy measurements from the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC). The models used are third-generation operational wave models: the Western North Atlantic wave model (WNA) and the North Atlantic Hurricane wave model (NAH). These two models have identical model physics, spatial resolutions, and domains, with the latter model using specialized hurricane wind forcing. Both models provided consistent estimates of the maximum wave height and period, with random errors of typically less than 25%, and timing errors of typically less than 5 h. Compared to these random errors, systematic model biases are negligible, with a typical negative model bias of 5%. It appears that higher wave model resolutions are needed to fully utilize the specialized hurricane wind forcing, and it is shown that present routine wave observations are inadequate to accurately validate hurricane wave models.

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Hendrik L. Tolman, Jose-Henrique G. M. Alves, and Yung Y. Chao

Abstract

The accuracy of the operational wave models at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) for sea states generated by Hurricane Isabel is assessed. The western North Atlantic (WNA) and the North Atlantic hurricane (NAH) wave models are validated using analyzed wind fields, and wave observations from the Jason-1 altimeter and from 15 moored buoys. Both models provided excellent guidance for Isabel in the days preceding landfall of the hurricane along the east coast of the United States. However, the NAH model outperforms the WNA model in the initial stages of Isabel, when she was a category 5 hurricane. The NAH model was also more accurate in providing guidance for the swell systems arriving at the U.S. coast well before landfall of Isabel. Although major model deficiencies can be attributed to shortcomings in the driving wind fields, several areas of potential wave model improvement have been identified.

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Yung Y. Chao, Jose-Henrique G. M. Alves, and Hendrik L. Tolman

Abstract

A new wind–wave prediction model, referred to as the North Atlantic hurricane (NAH) wave model, has been developed at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) to produce forecasts of hurricane-generated waves during the Atlantic hurricane season. A detailed description of this model and a comparison of its performance against the operational western North Atlantic (WNA) wave model during Hurricanes Isidore and Lili, in 2002, are presented. The NAH and WNA models are identical in their physics and numerics. The NAH model uses a wind field obtained by blending data from NCEP’s operational Global Forecast System (GFS) with those from a higher-resolution hurricane prediction model, whereas the WNA wave model uses winds provided exclusively by the GFS. Relative biases of the order of 10% in the prediction of maximum wave heights up to 48 h in advance, indicate that the use of higher-resolution winds in the NAH model provides a successful framework for predicting extreme sea states generated by a hurricane. Consequently, the NAH model has been made operational at NCEP for use during the Atlantic hurricane season.

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Y. L. Yung, J. P. Pinto, R. T. Watson, and S. P. Sander

Abstract

The role of bromine compounds in the photochemistry of the natural and perturbed stratosphere has been reexamined using an expanded reaction scheme and the results of recent laboratory studies of several key reactions. The most important finding is that through the reaction BrO + CIO → Br + Cl + O2, there is a synergistic effect between bromine and chlorine which results in an efficient catalytic destruction of ozone in the lower stratosphere. One-dimensional photochemical model results indicate that BrO is the major bromine species throughout the stratosphere, followed by BrONO2, HBr, HOBr and Br. We show from the foregoing that bromine is more efficient than chlorine as a catalyst for destroying ozone, and discuss the implications for stratospheric ozone of possible future growth in the industrial and agricultural use of bromine. Bromine concentrations of 20 pptv (2 × 10−11), as suggested by recent observations, can decrease the present-day integrated ozone column density by 2.4%, and can enhance ozone depletion from steady-state chlorofluoromethane release at 1973 rates by a factor of 1.1–1.2.

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Hendrik L. Tolman, Bhavani Balasubramaniyan, Lawrence D. Burroughs, Dmitry V. Chalikov, Yung Y. Chao, Hsuan S. Chen, and Vera M. Gerald

Abstract

A brief historical overview of numerical wind wave forecast modeling efforts at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) is presented, followed by an in-depth discussion of the new operational National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) “WAVEWATCH III” (NWW3) wave forecast system. This discussion mainly focuses on a parallel comparison of the new NWW3 system with the previously operational Wave Model (WAM) system, using extensive buoy and European Remote Sensing Satellite-2 (ERS-2) altimeter data. The new system is shown to describe the variability of the wave height more realistically, with similar or smaller random errors and generally better correlation coefficients and regression slopes than WAM. NWW3 outperforms WAM in the Tropics and in the Southern Hemisphere, and they both show fairly similar behavior at northern high latitudes. Dissemination of NWW3 products, and plans for its further development, are briefly discussed.

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