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Contributions of Satellite Microwave Data to Hurricane Research and Operations

Kyle Hilburn, Chelle Gentemann, Deborah Smith and Frank Wentz hilburn@remss.com

Remote Sensing Systems Santa Rosa, CA

At Remote Sensing Systems, we intercalibrate and consistently process data from a variety of microwave instruments (DMSP SSM/I, TRMM TMI, Aqua AMSR-E and QuikSCAT SeaWinds) to obtain research-quality geophysical ocean products including sea surface temperature (SST), ocean surface wind speed and direction, atmospheric water vapor, cloud liquid water and precipitation rate. Many of these products, especially the SSTs, contribute to hurricane research and prediction. We produce a diurnally corrected, optimally interpolated microwave SST product that represents a minimum daily ocean temperature. These SSTs have been demonstrated to improve hurricane intensity forecasts. In addition, our scatterometer and radiometer global tropical cyclone archive has been used for retrospective study and training by many organizations. Examples of these applications of our data will be shown on the poster.

Knowledge of SST is important for accurate intensity forecasting. Although microwave SSTs have a lower spatial resolution than the more traditional infrared SSTs, their through-cloud capabilities significantly improve coverage. Global, daily, near real time SSTs at 25 km resolution have been calculated using optimum interpolation (OI). The value of the AMSR-E OI SSTs was recently found when tested in the Statistical Hurricane Intensity Prediction Scheme (SHIPS) model run operationally by the National Hurricane Center. Overall, the weekly 100 km SSTs used operationally by NHC accurately represent ocean temperatures and substitution of the AMSR-E OI SSTs resulted in only slight forecast improvements (1.3% in the North Atlantic and 6.9% in the East Pacific). However, when oceanic features not resolved by the weekly analysis were present (such as cold wakes), the daily AMSR-E OI SSTs increased forecast accuracy considerably (12% to 60% for Hurricane Genevieve).

Our near-real-time web interface and archive was designed to make microwave radiometer (SST and rain) and scatterometer (wind) data accessible to the tropical cyclone research community, students and the general public. Several web sites (such as NOAA/NESDIS and NRL/FNMOC) provide scatterometer and radiometer data in real-time for storm forecasters. Our site complements these by providing research quality microwave data products archived for training and retrospective analysis. The archive interface was designed to enhance the usability and understanding of scatterometer data interpretation by integrating SSM/I rain rates and microwave OI SSTs into the display. Storm location, intensity and forecast data from Joint Typhoon Warning Center and National Hurricane Center are obtained from the Naval Research Lab – Monterey for use in extracting the scatterometer and radiometer image data. The archive consists of tropical storm images from July 1999 (when QuikSCAT data first became available) to the present for all storm basins. See http://www.remss.com/hurricane/data_archive.html.

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