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The Impact of NASA Global Hawk Unmanned Aircraft Dropwindsonde Observations on Tropical Cyclone Track, Intensity, and Structure: Case Studies
  • Published Date:
    2017
  • Source:
    Monthly Weather Review, 145(5), 1817-1830.
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The Impact of NASA Global Hawk Unmanned Aircraft Dropwindsonde Observations on Tropical Cyclone Track, Intensity, and Structure: Case Studies
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  • Description:
    AbstractThe impact of Global Hawk (GH) dropwindsondes on tropical cyclone analyses and forecasts is evaluated in an ensemble-based vortex-scale data assimilation system. Two cases from Hurricane Edouard (2014) are presented. In the first case, inner-core observations were exclusively provided by GH dropwindsondes, while in the second case, GH dropwindsondes were concentrated in the storm’s near environment and were complemented by an extensive number of inner-core observations from other aircraft. It is found that when GH dropwindsondes are assimilated, a positive impact on the minimum sea level pressure (MSLP) forecast persists for most lead times in the first case, conceivably due to the better representation of the initial vortex structure, such as the warm-core anomaly and primary and secondary circulations. The verification of the storm’s kinematic and thermodynamic structure in the forecasts of the first case is carried out relative to the time of the appearance of a secondary wind maximum (SWM) using the tail Doppler radar and dropwindsonde composite analyses. A closer-to-observed wavenumber-0 wind field in the experiment with GH dropwindsondes is seen before the SWM is developed, which likely contributes to the superior intensity forecast up to 36 h. The improvement in the warm-core anomaly in the forecasts from the experiment with GH dropwindsondes is believed to have also contributed to the consistent improvement in the MSLP forecast. For the latter case, a persistent improvement in the track forecast is seen, which is consistent with a better representation of the near-environmental flow obtained from GH data in the same region.

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