Evaluating the impact of improvements in the boundary layer parameterization on hurricane intensity and structure forecasts in HWRF

Jun A. Zhang, David S Nolan, Robert F. Rogers, Vijay Tallapragada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Scopus citations

Abstract

As part of the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project (HFIP), recent boundary layer physics upgrades in the operational Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) Model have benefited from analyses of in situ aircraft observations in the low-level eyewall region of major hurricanes. This study evaluates the impact of these improvements to the vertical diffusion in the boundary layer on the simulated track, intensity, and structure of four hurricanes using retrospective HWRF forecasts. Structural metrics developed from observational composites are used in the model evaluation process. The results show improvements in track and intensity forecasts in response to the improvement of the vertical diffusion. The results also demonstrate substantial improvements in the simulated storm size, surface inflow angle, near-surface wind profile, and kinematic boundary layer heights in simulations with the improved physics, while only minor improvements are found in the thermodynamic boundary layer height, eyewall slope, and the distributions of vertical velocities in the eyewall. Other structural metrics such as warm core anomaly and warm core height are also explored. Reasons for the structural differences between the two sets of forecasts with different physics are discussed. This work further emphasizes the importance of aircraft observations in model diagnostics and development, endorsing a developmental framework for improving physical parameterizations in hurricane models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3136-3155
Number of pages20
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Volume143
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Boundary layer
  • Diffusion
  • Model errors
  • Parameterization
  • Subgrid-scale processes
  • Tropical cyclones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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