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Recent studies have shown that tropical cyclone development is most likely a complicated interaction between processes within cloud clusters and the surrounding favorable larger-scale environment. Therefore, our ability to predict both the location and timing of genesis will be limited by our ability to identify both the mesoscale and large-scale processes. At the heart of the forecast problem is a lack of knowledge of the physical changes that occur during tropical cyclogenesis. Here, a study of TC genesis is proposed that focuses on identifying the environmental and microphysical differences between developing and non-developing cloud clusters and using these discriminating factors to build predictive tools based on remotely-sensed data. The key NASA science questions that are addressed are: 1. Do hot towers and convective bursts play a major role or are they merely an indicator of energy conversion processes? 2. Does the formation of cyclonic vorticity at the surface originate from midlevel cyclonic vorticity that builds downward, or does it originate at low levels and grow upward? What is the role of deep convection in this process? In addition: 3. What remote sensing products allow the key processes to be observed, and can we develop automate tools that will aid the forecaster in reliably identifying developing clusters? The main resources that will be used for the study are observations gathered during the CAMEX and TCSP field campaigns, in conjunction with the NASA suite of satellites, and the WRF mesoscale model. The program includes a detailed investigation of the microphysical differences between developing and non-developing cloud clusters on a case-by-case basis using the field observations to constrain mesoscale model simulations of genesis, as well as a more generalized study that aims to build an ability to detect and classify developing and non-developing cloud clusters using remote-sensing platforms alone.
Project PI: Elizabeth Ritchie/University of Arizona
PO Box 210081 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 95721-0081 USA
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