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Proceedings of OceanObs'09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society

COMMUNITY WHITE PAPER10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.36

The Ocean Observing System for Tropical Cyclone Intensification Forecasts and Studies

Gustavo Goni(1), Mark DeMaria(2), John Knaff(2), Charles Sampson(3), James Price(4), Avichal Mehra(5), Isaac Ginis(6), I-I Lin(7), Paul Sandery(8), Silvana Ramos-Buarque(9), M.M. Ali(10), Francis Bringas(11), Sim Aberson(12), Rick Lumpkin(12), Geeorge Halliwell(12), Chris Lauer(13), Eric Chassignet(14), Alberto Mavume(15), K. Kang(16)

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Tropical cyclones (TCs) occur in seven ocean basins: the tropical Atlantic, northeast Pacific, northwest Pacific, southwest Indian, north Indian, southeast Indian, and south Pacific (Fig.1) [1]. While sea surface temperature (SST) plays a role in the genesis of TCs, the thermal structure of the upper ocean has been shown to be an important factor for tropical cyclone intensification [2] and [3], provided that the atmospheric conditions are also favorable. The intensification of TCs includes the interaction of very complex mechanisms, such as internal TC dynamics, upper ocean interaction, and atmosphere circulation. In general, the reduction of error in the forecast of TC intensity has lagged behind that of track because of the complexity of the intensification problem, and because in some cases the errors introduced in the track forecast are translated into the intensity forecast [4]. Sudden or rapid TC intensification [5] has been linked with high values of upper ocean heat content contained in mesoscale features, particularly warm ocean eddies. Therefore, resolving, understanding, and monitoring the upper ocean mesoscale field and its vertical thermal structure appear to be critical elements for TC intensification studies and forecasts. The current ocean observing system was not designed for TC intensification or forecasting studies. In most basins, the available hydrographic and in situ observations cannot resolve mesoscale features and their vertical thermal structure with a spatial and temporal resolution sufficient for TC intensification research or forecast. The present suite of vertical temperature profile observations are dominated by observations from profiling floats that are somewhat widely and unevenly spaced and by eXpendable BathyThermograph (XBT) transects that provide better spatial resolution but only along fixed tracks (Fig. 2, left panel). Therefore, a variety of indirect approaches and techniques are needed to estimate the upper ocean heat content. One such technique includes the use of sea surface height observations derived from satellite altimetry. These satellite-derived data provide information on the upper ocean dynamics and vertical thermal structure at a spatial and temporal resolution that resolves ocean mesoscale features. This manuscript highlights the importance of integrated ocean data, particularly satellite derived observations and their concurrent analysis with hydrographic observations and within numerical air-sea coupled and forced ocean models. The TC intensity forecast in some basins has already incorporated upper ocean thermal information either in research or operational mode. This manuscript provides a summary of how the combination of data from several ocean observing platforms, including hydrographic, airborne, and satellite-derived observations, are being used for TC intensification studies and forecasts.

1NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, 4301 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149, USA
2NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Regional Mesoscale Meteorology Branch, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1375 USA
3Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey, CA 93943, USA
4Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 266 Woods Hole Road, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA
5NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) National Centers for Environmental Prediction, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, Maryland 20746 USA
6University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography, South Ferry Rd., Narragansett, RI O2882 USA
7Department of Atmospheric Sciences, National Taiwan University, No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road, Taipei, 10617 Taiwan (R.O.C.)
8Center for Australian Weather and Climate Research, GPO Box 1289, Melbourne, VIC 3001, Australia
9Mercator Ocean, 8-10 rue Hermès, 31520 Ramonville St. Agne, France
10Oceanography Division, National Remote Sensing Centre, Dept. of Space, Govt. of India, Balanagar, Hyderabad - 500 625, India
11University of Miami, Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149 USA
12NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)/Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, 4301 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149, USA
13National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/Tropical Prediction Center, 11691 SW 17th Street Miami, Florida 33165-2149 USA
14Florida State University, 600 W. College Avenue, Tallahassee, FL 32306-2840 USA
15Eduardo Mondlane University Maputo, Praca 25 de Junho Caixa Postal 257, Maputo 257, Mozambique
16National Typhoon Center, Jeju Branch/Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA), 486-3 Topyeong-dong, Seogwipo City, Jeju, Republic of Korea

Correspondence should be addressed to E-mail: gustavo.goni@noaa.gov

This paper shall be cited as:

Goni, G. & Co-Authors (2010). "The Ocean Observing System for Tropical Cyclone Intensification Forecasts and Studies" in Proceedings of OceanObs’09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society (Vol. 2), Venice, Italy, 21-25 September 2009, Hall, J., Harrison, D.E. & Stammer, D., Eds., ESA Publication WPP-306, doi:10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.36

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