Data from a numerical simulation of a moving barotropic vortex on a sphere with 10-km resolution are used to assess the ability of a state-of-the-art objective analysis scheme to detect certain large-scale tropical cyclone asymmetries, the so-called “beta gyres” to which the cyclone motion appears to be attributed.
A series of analyses is conducted, first using the entire dataset and then taking subsets of it. Four subsets were considered in which data at a regular array of points were extracted, progressively increasing the separation between points. A fifth calculation was considered in which data were selected at points corresponding to the proposed upgraded upper-air network for a tropical cyclone motion experiment in the northwest Pacific region.
It is shown that for a moderate-sized tropical cyclone-scale vortex, a regular grid spacing on the order of 100–150 km is required to adequately define the gyres, at least when the ambient flow is weak. The upgraded upper-air network was found to be inadequate by itself for this purpose, suggesting that aircraft dropwindsonde data are a prerequisite for this task.