Adjoint Sensitivity and Predictability of Tropical Cyclogenesis

December 2012
Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences;Dec2012, Vol. 69 Issue 12, p3535
Academic Journal
The sensitivity of tropical cyclogenesis and subsequent intensification is explored by applying small perturbations to the initial state in the presence of organized mesoscale convection and synoptic-scale forcing using the adjoint and tangent linear models for the Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS). The forward, adjoint, and tangent linear models are used to compare and contrast predictability characteristics for the disturbance that became Typhoon Nuri and a nondeveloping organized convective cluster in the western Pacific during The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment (THORPEX) Pacific Asian Regional Campaign (T-PARC) and the Tropical Cyclone Structure-2008 (TCS-08) experiments. The adjoint diagnostics indicate that the intensity (e.g., maximum surface wind speed, minimum surface pressure) of a tropical disturbance is very sensitive to perturbations in the moisture and temperature fields and to a lesser degree the wind fields. The highest-resolution adjoint simulations (grid increment of 13 km) indicate that the most efficient intensification is through moistening in the lower and middle levels and heating in banded regions that are coincident with vorticity maxima in the initial state. Optimal adjoint perturbations exhibit rapid growth for the Nuri case and only modest growth for the nondeveloping system. The adjoint results suggest that Nuri was near the threshold for development, indicative of low predictability. The low-level sensitivity maximum and tendency for optimal perturbation growth to extend vertically through the troposphere are consistent with a "bottom up" development process of TC genesis, although a secondary midlevel sensitivity maximum is present as well. Growth originates at small scales and projects onto the scale of the vortex, a manifestation of perturbations that project onto organized convection embedded in regions of cyclonic vorticity.


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