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Understanding and forecasting tropical cyclone intensity change




Fitzpatrick, Patrick J., author
Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, publisher

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This research investigates several issues pertaining to tropical cyclone intensity change. Previous research on tropical cyclone intensity change is reviewed in great detail. The applicability of upper-level forcing theories is questioned. Inner-core processes related to intensity change are studied, with particular attention on the relationship between the vertical profile of the tangential wind (vt) field in the eyewall region and future pressure changes. For cases under minimal wind shear and warm SSTs such that vigorous inner-core updrafts exist, the cyclonic circulation should be mostly conserved almost to the upper-troposphere, with the largest vertical vt variation confined near the tropopause. It is hypothesized that a vertically conserved wind profile is conducive to fast intensification. Observations support this theory. By stratifying inner-core data into fast and slow developers, it is shown that fast developing tropical cyclones contain a more vertically stacked inner-core vortex than slow developers. It is also shown that a direct correlation exists between inner-core upper-level winds and tropical cyclone intensification, with the rate of intensification proportional to the magnitude and symmetry of upper-level vt. Diagnostic calculations using the Balanced Vortex equations also support this assertion. An alternative air-sea interaction theory is presented which incorporates boundary layer cooling. The buoyancy calculations include partial water-loading and ice microphysics, and their relevance to CAPE calculations in the tropics is discussed. It is shown that the lateral extension of the eye, above a sloping eyewall, is the crucial component in maintaining the air-sea interaction despite boundary layer cooling. Implications on the maximum intensity a storm may achieve are discussed. A multiple regression scheme with intensity change as the dependent variable has been developed. The new scheme is titled the Typhoon Intensity Prediction Scheme (TIPS), and is similar to one used operationally at the National Hurricane Center. However, TIPS contains two major differences: it is developed for the western North Pacific Ocean, and utilizes digitized satellite data. It is shown that the satellite data can distinguish between fast and slow developing tropical cyclones. The importance of other statistical predictors (such as SSTs, wind shear, persistence, and climatology) to intensity change are also clarified. The statistics reveal threshold values useful to forecasters. It is shown that TIPS is competitive with the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.


Includes bibliographical references.

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Cyclone forecasting -- Tropics
Cyclones -- Tropics -- Mathematical models
Convection (Meteorology) -- Tropics
Vortex-motion -- Tropics


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