An Ensemble Numerical Modeling Study of Alantic Basin Hurricane Intensification
Brown, Bonnie Rachel
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Rapid intensification of tropical cyclones is an active area of research in the atmospheric sciences due to the difficulty of forecasting cyclone intensity and the unclear mechanism by which a hurricane my undergo explosive deepening. Ensemble numerical modeling studies of six tropical cyclones from 2009, 2010 and 2011 which underwent periods of strong intensification are conducted here. The goal is to identify common storm structures in intensifying hurricanes while filling a gap in the current research between case studies of rapid intensification and climatological/statistical type studies of hurricane intensification rates by using a compositing method. A 96-member ensemble is run for a 24 hour forecast using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model for hurricanes Bill (2009), Earl (2010), Igor (2010), Julia (2010), Katia (2011), and Ophelia (2011). Ensemble sensitivity analysis is used to investigate which patterns in the analysis have a strong influence on the forecast intensity and then a novel sensitivity compositing is used to identify common patterns which affect the forecast intensity. It is found that these hurricanes are all predicted to respond to an increased primary and secondary circulation, an increased warm core, a raised tropopause and moistening of rain bands with an increased forecast intensity. Perturbed initial conditions show a linear model response for small perturbations but also signs of non-linearity at large perturbations, indicating that these sensitivity patterns are robust for limited additional strengthening of the hurricane. When perturbations are partitioned into dry and moist variables, it is seen that most of the model response is achieved by the dry dynamics. Further investigation is conducted into the rapid intensification of Earl (2010) and Igor (2010) but creating ensemble forecasts with additional, high-resolution nested domains which allow explicit convection. When the ensemble sensitivity analysis is repeated, the results of the initial analysis are confirmed. When the evolution of the perturbed experiments is compared to that of the unperturbed, strong perturbations in the tangential and radial wind as well as the column integrated water vapor are found to persist throughout the forecast, except in the case where only the moist variables were perturbed. An equivalent potential temperature budget highlights the important role of dynamical processes, i.e., advection, and finds that mean vertical advection and eddy processes have a particular positive influence on the hurricane intensity.
- Atmospheric sciences