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This proposed project, as part of the Hurricane Science Research Program, is designed to exploit satellite altimetry and satellite-derived SST measurements in conjunction with in-situ observations and an ocean general circulation model to improve our physical understanding of how the ocean responds to intense tropical cyclone (TC) forcing. This understanding will then be applied to improving our capability of using satellite data to achieve two goals: (1) enhance our capability to forecast TCs, particularly intensity evolution; and (2) advance our understanding of the cumulative TC impact on upper-ocean circulation and heat content to determine if this impact influences short-term climate fluctuations in the upper ocean. The goal of improving intensity forecasts can be achieved by two methods: The first method is to improve intensity forecasts produced by statistical models such as the operational Statistical Hurricane Intensity Prediction Scheme (SHIPS) by providing improved oceanic heat content (OHC) estimates as input. To improve OHC estimates, parameters of statistical-dynamical models presently used to estimate OHC from satellite altimetry and SST fields will be carefully calibrated and thoroughly evaluated against ARGO float profiles and other high-quality in situ observations. The second method is to optimize the ocean model initialization in coupled TC forecast models in terms of the initial horizontal distribution of OHC and of upper-ocean stratification. Since future plans include using regional to global ocean hindcasts produced as part of the Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment (GODAE) to provide the initial fields, the capability of one ocean nowcast-forecast system based on the HYbrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) will be thoroughly evaluated. This model is chosen because the HYCOM-based nowcast-forecast product produced at NOAA-NCEP is the initial GODAE product selected to provide this initialization, and also because this model is presently undergoing evaluation as a candidate ocean model for the new HWRF coupled forecast model. Since this nowcast-forecast system assimilates subsurface profiles from ARGO floats and other in-situ data in addition to satellite altimetry and SST, the capability of this system to estimate OHC maps will be evaluated against the statistical-dynamical method, and both methods will be evaluated against high-quality observations that were not assimilated. Optimal OHC fields will be generated to perform the planned scientific analyses. This project will focus on two TC regions: the North Atlantic and eastern North Pacific Oceans. The goal of understanding the cumulative dynamical and thermodynamical consequences of TC forcing will be explored as follows: The surface ocean response patterns that are observed by satellite in TC wakes, especially sea surface temperature cooling, will be related to isotherm displacements, sea surface depressions, and OHC decreases to understand how the surface signals of the TC response are related to the three-dimensional upper-ocean dynamical and thermodynamical response. The working scientific hypothesis is by carefully combining SSTs with the surface height anomaly (SHA) fields from multiple satellite platforms, our understanding of the cold wakes will improve for a broad spectrum of storms with varying intensity, radius of maximum wind, storm speed, latitude and oceanic stratification. The end product will be a storm climatology that includes SST, SHA and OHC changes and currents relative to observed atmospheric parameters, which will then be analyzed to detect potential impacts on short-term climate fluctuations in the upper ocean. Storm climatologies derived from satellite and in situ observations alone and from the HYCOM global ocean hindcasts will be compared and evaluated for this purpose.
Project PI: Nick Shay/University of Miami/RSMAS
University of Miami 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway Miami, FL 33149
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