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ON THE CONDITIONS FOR GRADIENT BALANCE IN THE UPPER LEVEL OF

TROPICAL CYCLONES

Spine title: Gradient Balance in the Upper Level of Tropical Cyclones

Thesis format: Monograph

by

Michael Patrick Maxwell Gibbons

Graduate Program in Civil and Environmental Engineering

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Engineering Science

The School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
The University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, Canada

© Michael Gibbons 2010

THE UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO
School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

CERTIFICATE OF EXAMINATION

Certificate of Examination

Supervisor Examiners

____________________________ ____________________________
Dr. Craig Miller Dr. Ralph Baddour

____________________________
Dr. Hanping Hong

____________________________
Dr. James Voogt

The thesis by

Michael Patrick Maxwell Gibbons
entitled:

On the Conditions for Gradient Balance in the Upper Level of
Tropical Cyclones

is accepted in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of
Master of Engineering Science

______________________ _______________________________
Date Dr. Jason Gerhard
Chair of the Thesis Examination Board
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Abstract

The current study investigates gradient balance at the 700 hPa pressure level of

tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic basin between 2002 and 2008. A total of 230

fields from thirty storms were analyzed using velocity and geopotential height data

from reconnaissance flights. Objectively analyzed velocity and geopotential height

fields were related using the gradient balance equation in two ways: azimuthally

averaged and locally. The results obtained from azimuthal averaging were compared

to contrasting studies by Willoughby (1979, 1990) and Gray (1962, 1991), who

considered averaging by radius and radius normalized by the radius to maximum

winds, respectively. The current study reproduced the results of Willoughby but did

not reproduce those of Gray.

When considered locally, gradient balance was found in 51 percent of the cases.

Strong correlations between gradient balance, high storm strength and low

asymmetry were found. Storms that were out of balance tended to be weak, under

high levels of wind shear or impinging on land masses. The results indicate that

local gradient balance cannot be assumed universally. When used as an assumption,

the criteria for storms in and out of balance should be checked to ensure accurate

results.

Keywords

Tropical Cyclones, Gradient Balance, Objective Analysis, Geopotential Height, North

Atlantic Ocean, Data Modeling

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http://www.gov/.aoml. I will be forever grateful for the trust you had in my abilities. I would like to thank Dr.org). Their website. I would also like to acknowledge the United States Air Force Reserve 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‟s Aircraft Reconnaissance Center. The National Hurricane Center also proved to be an invaluable resource. http://www.html.ca) and Compute/Calcul Canada (computecanada.gov/hrd/index. Craig Miller.Acknowledgments I would like to thank and acknowledge my Supervisor.noaa. providing insight into storms in a way that reconnaissance data alone never could. provides detailed storm information on all tropical cyclones going back two decades. Dr. for guiding me through this process. This allowed me to verify my implementation of the algorithm and quell any fears of inaccuracies in my code. possible. Their website. as well as hurricane centre tracks. and the confidence that this instilled in me. patience and encouragement you so freely shared. I would to thank Dr. Mark DeMaria for sharing his insight into my topic as well as iv .noaa. Their fearless dedication to obtaining reconnaissance data in tropical cyclones has made this thesis. as well as much of the other research into tropical cyclones around the world.nhc. This work was made possible by the computing facilities of the Shared Hierarchical Academic Research Computing Network (SHARCNET. This thesis would not be possible without the ideas. Jeff Kepert for providing me a copy of the code for his Translating Pressure Fit centre finding algorithm. sharcnet. The data from this thesis was kindly made available by the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory‟s Hurricane Research Division. hosts over two decades of aircraft reconnaissance data.

I would also like to thank my colleagues Sunwei Li and David Gatey for sharing their thoughts and ideas on my thesis throughout this process. unwavering support. Your love and support have made this all worthwhile.for his assistance with the Mueller et al. I would like to thank my wife Monica. it is because of your love that I finished this thesis and I can‟t wait to face the rest of our journey together – safe and sound. Above all else. You were excited with me for every „breakthrough‟ and commiserated with me during every setback. Thank you to my Thunder Bay family for giving me a home away from home and for always making me feel welcome. to whom this thesis is dedicated. Finally. I would not be here right now had Meaghan not suggested all those years ago that I consider engineering as my profession. v . Pat and Paula. her husband Pete and their daughter Olive continue to be a source of inspiration. you have always been there. Thank you to CBC Radio 3 for being the soundtrack to my thesis. You were there for the late nights. standing by my side. Thank you to my parents. algorithm. groggy mornings and shut-in weekends. Many thanks must be given to my friends and family for always sticking with me. Throughout these past two years. Thank you to my friends for always dragging me away from my work when I needed a break. for your constant. My sister Meaghan. You always encouraged me to follow my dreams and you have always provided me with more than enough in every area of my life.

........................................ 73 4... 85 5...........Data Preparation .....................7.............................................5 Budget Analysis..........................................6 Strengthening........................................................3 Current Study Considerations ...........3 Spline Fit ......................................... 66 4................................................................................................................8 Factors Affecting Gradient Balance ... ix Nomenclature and Abbreviations .................................................. Weakening or Steady Storms and ∂v/∂t ........................................................ 16 3... viii List of Figures ..2 Results .............................................................4 Other Modeling Techniques ................3 Storm Size................................................................ 45 4........................8.................................................................Gradient Balance Analysis .......................................................................................................................2 Large-Scale Environmental Conditions .................................................................................. 78 Chapter 5 ............................................................................................................................................ 61 4.............................................................................................1 Model Overview ......... 60 4............17 3............................................................................... 65 4.......................................... 5 2...............................................................................................................4 Error Characteristics ..................7.............. 53 4...................................................................................1 Pioneering Studies ..................................... 35 3............2.......................... 72 4............................... 32 3..........2......... 8 2.................................................... 47 4....................................... 54 4.......................1 Contrasting the work of Willoughby and Gray ..2 Error Level in Analysis ...... 20 3..8........2 Azimuthal Averaging – Normalized Radius ....................................2....Literature Review .......................3 Recent Studies .................................................... vi List of Tables ......................................... iii Acknowledgments .........3 Conclusions ...................................................................................................................................................2.. xiii Chapter 1 ..................... 52 4........ 45 4........................ 32 3........................................... 11 2..............................1........1 Storm Strength ...........Table of Contents Certificate of Examination ....................................................................................................................4 Forward Storm Speed ................1...1......................................2 Comparisons to Previous Studies ............ 18 3........................ 50 4.......1 Azimuthally Averaged Wind Fields .................. 70 4...7........................ 1 Chapter 2 ..........................7....................................................2 Azimuthally Averaged Fields .......71 4................................1 Error Criteria of Previous Studies ..... 69 4.........................................................3 Error by Quadrant ..................................5 Correlation Analysis .......................................................... 70 4............................................. 37 Chapter 4 ............ 25 3.............. 5 2................. 58 4.....Conclusions .2.............................2 Asymmetry ................7 Storm Characteristics ............................................................................................................... ii Abstract ..................................Introduction............2 Centre Track................................. 66 4...7............................ 86 vi .............................................................................1 Pressure Level Selection...............................4 Coordinate Transform ......................................................................................................................................................................................1 Storm Strength .................................................................1 Gradient Balance Criteria .................. iv Table of Contents ........................................................................ 46 4....................... 12 Chapter 3 .5 Objective Analysis ...............

.................................................................................... 5....................... 97 Curriculum Vitae ..........Azimuthal Equidistant Projection ............................ 94 Appendix B ...........................3 Future Work ............ 90 References ..........................................................................................2 Local Gradient Balance .... 92 Appendix A ......................................................... 87 5.........................................................Summary of Storms ...................................................... 100 vii ....................................................................

.List of Tables Table 3............. Results for 1............................. ...............................................R-Values between the data sets described in sections 4.................................7. 34 Table 4. WCHRD and Best Track Algorithms............................... number of data fields and maximum storm intensity according to Saffir-Simpson scale ...... date ranges...... 10 and 60 second data intervals have been reported for WC1982 and TPF.........Data fields for storms that were initially weak according to angular momentum and out of GB....... 73 Table 4...........3 .....................7...... TPF................................ 26 Table 3....3 ............................ 74 viii .................. ...4 and gradient balance............... TPF.............................. WCHRD and Best Fit Algorithms...1 to 4.............1 .....................1 ......................Centre Fixes for Hurricane Rita on 22 September 2005 for the WC1982........................... 30 Table 3......... Results for 1 and 10 second data intervals have been reported for WC and TPF.......... 72 Table 4................Centre Fixes for Hurricane Katrina on 28 August 2005 for the WC1982........2 ....Storm names and characteristics for the nine continuously weak storms investigated in this study .......The storm names..2 ...

.. 14 Figure 3...... .................. 13 Figure 2.. Tropical cyclones circulate around a low pressure (L)........... but with a data frequency of one minute.Typical radial profiles for wind speed and pressure in a tropical cyclone...................... 31 ix .................. ....... showing the inability of the Holland pressure profile to model secondary storm peaks........... .... 31 Figure 3.................................. 27 Figure 3........7..7 ..8 ........................... The balance between the pressure gradient (P).... The deficiencies of the Holland pressure profile discussed by Willoughby and Rahn (2004) are evident..6 .... . ...4....... In effect.. longitude and geopotential height from a TC reconnaissance flight during Hurricane Dean..2 Figure 2. The WC1982 algorithm produces clearly erroneous results for this data frequency........... 29 Figure 3.....Same as Figure 3.. 9 August 1980. For a tropical cyclone in the northern hemisphere. .1 ...................4 .....Track of Hurricane Katrina (2005) with NHC‟s Best Track Data and HRD‟s implementation of the Willoughby/Chelmow Algorithm.................. 16 Figure 3.. but with a data frequency of 10 seconds.................... Hurricane Anita.........Comparison of centre finding algorithms for Hurricane Rita between 16:00 and 21:00 UTC 22 September 2005...........1.......................... wind directions indicated by arrows and lines of position indicated by dashed lines..........................................2 ....................................... Figure from Willoughby and Rahn (2004).... 20 Figure 3. The data used has a frequency of one second.... 1 Figure 1...................................... Figure from Willoughby and Rahn (2004)..............................Illustration of gradient balance in a tropical cyclone.. the centre is chosen by the WC1982 algorithm as the point that minimizes the error between the latitude and longitude of the point cloud and the centre........Comparison of centre finding algorithms for Hurricane Katrina between 19:00 and 23:30 UTC 28 August 2005...A plot showing the latitude.............Same as Figure 3.........List of Figures Figure 1. centrifugal (Ce) and Coriolis (Co) forces..... The colourbar gradient represents the time progression of the flight...................................Schematic of the WC1982 model..... 27 Figure 3...... When the lines of position are intersected a point cloud is created...............................................4........... .... The data resolution for WCHRD is much higher than for the Best Track.................. The data used has a frequency of one second....... Hurricane Allen........... but with a data frequency of 10 seconds....... 2 September 1977........ ...3 .. with reconnaissance flight path indicated by the dotted line...5 ........................ 20 August 2007...... ..Same as Figure 3....1 . ......A comparison of actual tangential velocity (lightweight line) and a velocity profile calculated using the Holland pressure profile (heavyweight line).........................2 ..... ....2 .........................As with Figure 2...........1 ... 22 Figure 3... the flow (V) travels counterclockwise.....

indicated by the black dots....................................... The MT algorithm produces a field that is much more realistic and circular.. As with the geopotential field.................... 18 August 2007 ....9 ...................13 ........ As with Figure 3........ unrealistic straight edges and sharp corners make the Barnes algorithm unsuitable for this study............. .Contour plot of the MT algorithm implementation for the velocity field of Hurricane Dean. ................. 36 Figure 3....... 43 Figure 4........ ..3..As with Figure 3.... The unrealistic straight edges and sharp corners indicate that despite being optimized for curved flow................... Hurricane Dean...... this field is much more realistic than the corresponding Barnes algorithm field......33 Figure 3..................................Objectively analyzed tangential velocity field with raw data () plotted................. 31 August 2006 .... 53 Figure 4.Contour plot of the Barnes algorithm implementation for the geopotential field of Hurricane Dean........................11 ....15 ......... 18 August 2007...Contour plot of the Barnes algorithm implementation for the velocity field of Hurricane Dean...................................................... Hurricane Dean.............................................................. 41 Figure 3....... ......... 42 Figure 3.............................16 ............As with Figure 3................................................1 ... The red line through the rectangles indicates the mean value at that radius..............18 ..........54 x ...A comparison of azimuthally averaged actual and modeled velocities for Hurricane Dean.....Partial reconnaissance flight track for Hurricane Dean. plotted with raw data () used to create the field.............. 41 Figure 3.. 20 August 2007..............................10 but in Storm Relative coordinates..... ...........12 ........10 but in Storm Relative coordinates............................ ...... as given in Table 3....................................... .2 ....................3 ...........Objectively analyzed geopotential field at the 700 hPa pressure level................... The analysis grid has been overlaid with the grid points........54 Figure 4..................... .... 36 Figure 3......10 ..... the algorithm is insufficient for the purposes of this study..... 20 August 2007...... Larger differences exist for low and high radial locations..A comparison of azimuthally averaged actual and modeled velocities for Hurricane Ernesto.............................Contour plot of the MT algorithm implementation for the geopotential field of Hurricane Dean............. .....Ratio between actual tangential and modeled GB velocities for azimuthally averaged profiles.. 18 August 2007......... .................14 ... 18 August 2007..............Figure 3....................17 ....... The forward direction of the storm is indicated by the black arrow............13......... The field has been rotated so that the direction of the storm is north...35 Figure 3.................................. 40 Figure 3....... as indicated by the arrow............ 40 Figure 3....... 18 August 2007.. 20 August 2007 in Earth Relative coordinates..Storm tracks for the storms used in this study........

.... ....... ....................................... 68 Figure 4.......... with averaging according to the normalized radius.... 67 Figure 4.......................9 ................. 69 Figure 4.. 57 Figure 4............... ........59 Figure 4... 31 August 2006.................Correlation between Angular Momentum and the percentage of points within a ±10 percent envelope of GB.......................14 ..... 70 Figure 4.....................1) for Hurricane Dean.......1) for Hurricane Dean.........................12 ........... ....... 20 August 2007.... ....17 .....10 ................Correlation between maximum asymmetry and GB......................Error plot for Rear-Right quadrant.... 68 Figure 4................. Each point represents a different data field..... Storm features in a) are unorganized..........56 Figure 4........................... as in Figure 4............ 64 Figure 4...... .....4 ....................... .....................15.18 ..........1) for Hurricane Dean................................................. Tropical Storm Fabian in a) developed into an intense category four hurricane in b).. as in Figure 4..................15...................Correlation between Minimum Geopotential Height at 700 hPa and GB.....Budget analysis of (4.............15.............. 75 Figure 4........................................ The field is from Hurricane Dean....Error plot for Front-Right quadrant .......6 ...............................Percentage contribution of the terms of (4...............21 ........ 16 August 2007.Budget analysis of (4.......... Within the span of three days. 16 August 2007.................Relationship between ε and angular momentum.8 .................... as in Figure 4.........................59 Figure 4...................................................... The field is from Hurricane Ernesto..........11 ...22 a) and b) ....1) for Hurricane Dean........Error plot for Front-Left quadrant ..... with averaging according to the normalized radius... 60 Figure 4...................15. 71 Figure 4........... 64 Figure 4........ as in Figure 4..... . xi ..... 62 Figure 4..........A comparison of azimuthally averaged actual and modeled velocities......................A comparison of azimuthally averaged actual and modeled velocities..................................................Correlation between maximum storm size and GB.............16 .......56 Figure 4....19 .. .. 18 August 2007...Correlation between Maximum Wind Speed and GB....3 but sorted by the normalized radius........................ as in Figure 4.........Figure 4.....Percentage contribution of the terms of (4. Weaker storms tend to have larger values for ε.....5 ........................ 20 August 2007...As with Figure 4...................................Difference in structure between a developing and a well developed TC.................... 58 Figure 4..Correlation between horizontal storm speed and GB..... ..Error plot for Rear-Left quadrant ..................... .......15 ....13 ...........................20 ........................ 63 Figure 4..................15...........7 ..........

...........................22 a).......27 . corresponding to the satellite image in Figure 4.............. 81 Figure 4.................... ...N) = (100............................... The arrow depicts the direction of the storm .............. Two large discontinuities exist.. Storm features in b) are much more organized...24 .....Track for Hurricane Ernesto indicating the location of data field centres and its interaction with landmasses..... corresponding to the satellite image in Figure 4............ ..asymmetric..Tangential wind speeds for Fabian on 3 September 2003....... centred at (E........ a well defined eye and continuous cloud cover at radial values up to 300 km........78 Figure 4..23 ....... .........25 ... The arrow depicts the direction of the storm ..78 Figure 4.... 76 Figure 4........Track for Hurricane Frances indicating the location of data field centres and its interaction with landmasses...................0) and (75. axisymmetric within 100 km of the centre....Track for Hurricane Wilma indicating the location of data field centres and its interaction with landmasses.......Tangential wind speeds for Fabian on 30 August 2003.................. with discontinuous cloud cover and no defined eye..... 83 xii .........35) km... This wind field has no apparent discontinuities......26 ..................22 b).. .. 80 Figure 4...

Nomenclature and Abbreviations b Holland shape parameter Ck Centre of curvature D Height deficit value Ek Cressman‟s isotropic function F Coriolis parameter g Gravitational acceleration GB Gradient balance H Closeness parameter HRD Hurricane Research Division J Cost function M Angular momentum MT Mueller/Thacker objective analysis method p Pressure pc Central pressure r Radius R Gas constant rm Radius to maximum wind SL Root mean squared value of sn for all values of n sn Distance to the centre of a tropical cyclone to point n t Time T Temperature TC Tropical cyclone xiii .

δθθ Discretized 2nd derivative operators ε Ratio between u and v θ Angle.Yn Aircraft coordinates α. β Smoothing parameters for Mueller/Thacker objective analysis method Δp Pressure difference δrr. clockwise from north λ Longitude ρ Density τ Viscous and Reynolds stresses φ Latitude Φ Geopotential  Geopotential height Ω Angular velocity xiv . vc Forward speed of the storm v Tangential velocity V Earth relative wind speed vm Maximum velocity wij Weighting function for the Barnes objective analysis method Wn Weighting function for the Willoughby Chelmow algorithm Xc.Td Dew point temperature TPF Translating pressure fit Tv Virtual temperature u Radial velocity uc. Yc Location of the centre of a tropical cyclone Xn.

1 . Tropical cyclones are characterized by their large size. Deaths numbering in the dozens on a yearly basis are common and in the hundreds are not unheard of. tropical cyclones are widely studied so that their behavior can be better understood. resulting in tropical cyclones being referred to as warm core storm systems.Typical radial profiles for wind speed and pressure in a tropical cyclone. Figure 1. typically with a diameter in the hundreds of kilometers. 1 Chapter 1 . Typical radial profiles for wind speed and pressure are given in Figure 1. For these reasons.1. . The centre of a tropical cyclone is warmer than its surroundings. and circulation around a low pressure centre. Damage to property due to tropical cyclones in coastal areas can be in the billions of dollars per year. and so that damage to property and loss of life can be minimized.Introduction Tropical cyclones are high energy and highly destructive meteorological processes.

Gradient balance is an assumption that can be applied to the wind and pressure fields of tropical cyclones.2. as discussed in Chapter 2. centrifugal and Coriolis forces. with wind speed reaching a maximum (at the radius of maximum wind or RMW) and then decreasing.Illustration of gradient balance in a tropical cyclone. V Co Ce P L Figure 1. The simplifications applied to the Navier Stokes equations restrict the application of the gradient balance equation to the region above the atmospheric boundary layer. the flow (V) travels counterclockwise. 2 Wind speed and pressure profiles increase from the centre of the storm. centrifugal (Ce) and Coriolis (Co) forces. This region is known as the upper-level or gradient wind field. and pressure increasing until it is equivalent to the ambient pressure where it levels off. Gradient balance has long been used as a modeling tool in tropical cyclones. have investigated how well gradient balance models the actual pressure and wind fields in the upper level of tropical cyclones. as illustrated in Figure 1.2 . A mathematical definition of gradient balance is obtained through simplifications of the cylindrical Navier Stokes equations. The balance between the pressure gradient (P). as well as advancements in data acquisition and computational analysis capabilities. Various studies. means that further study of . It is the assumption of balance between the pressure gradient. The lack of a comprehensive study. Tropical cyclones circulate around a low pressure (L). For a tropical cyclone in the northern hemisphere.

1500 and 3000 metres. This practice has been undertaken for the vast majority of tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic basin over the past decades. The data used in the current study is from reconnaissance flights that have flown through tropical cyclones at the upper level wind field. The purpose of the current study is to re-evaluate the gradient balance assumption in tropical cyclones. local and averaged. it is necessary to compare modeled values from the gradient balance equation with actual data from tropical cyclones. 850 and 700 hPa correspond to altitudes of approximately 750. The wealth of data produced has been used to gain insight into tropical cyclones. 3 gradient balance is required in order to better assess its applicability as an assumption in the upper-level of tropical cyclones. Strong storms are too turbulent and unpredictable to fly at the higher pressure levels. The choice of pressure surface on which to fly reflects the strength of the given tropical cyclone. are flown at 700 hPa. In order to assess gradient balance. The altitude that the aircraft fly at to maintain a constant pressure is equivalent to the geopotential height. weak storms are typically flown at 915 or 850 hPa whereas strong storms. Pilots flying through tropical cyclones risk their lives in order to collect data from the storm. The two predominant applications of gradient balance. with the pilot altering the altitude of the aircraft in order to maintain a constant pressure. those that are most likely to cause property damage and loss of life upon landfall. The data for these flights is collected at a constant pressure surface. The pressure levels of 915. are investigated and their results are compared to previous studies. .

Chapter 4 details the results of the analysis. and from these centre fixes continuous tracks are created for each of the thirty storms. 1990. The storm centre relative data is then objectively analyzed to create a continuous surface for geopotential height and velocity. 4 Chapter 3 details the data preparation and analysis techniques used in this study. . The area being investigated in this study is the upper level wind field. minimum geopotential. Local gradient balance is then investigated and an attempt is made to correlate gradient balance with storm characteristics. which in this study corresponds to the 700 hPa pressure level. These characteristics (angular momentum. Azimuthally averaged gradient balance is first investigated and the results of this analysis are compared to studies by Willoughby (1979. Thirty tropical storms from the North Atlantic basin have been investigated over the 2002 to 2008 time period. high precision tropical cyclone centre fixes are created. maximum velocity. 1991) and Gray (1991). Using data obtained from reconnaissance flights that fly through tropical cyclones. asymmetry and forward storm speed) are then used to help explain when local gradient balance is and is not a good assumption. These tracks allow the reconnaissance fight data to be converted from an earth relative to a storm centre relative coordinate system.

time derivatives (∂/∂t).Literature Review There have been many studies conducted that have attempted to determine the validity of gradient balance (henceforth GB) in tropical cyclones (henceforth TCs). The derivation of GB can be carried out in a number of ways. GB. is to begin from the Navier Stokes equations using a cylindrical coordinate system.1 ) (2. Studies with widely ranging scopes and differing analysis techniques have investigated GB but to date.2) (2. The simplest derivation. the following assumptions must be made. derivatives in the tangential direction (∂/∂θ). no consensus among authors exists on GB within the upper level wind field of TCs. 5 Chapter 2 . Given below are the two dimensional Navier Stokes equations for a cylindrical system. 2.1 Pioneering Studies The study of GB began out of a pursuit to describe the forces active in a TC. which is similar to that of Gray (1962). . also referred to in other texts as gradient wind balance. is an assumption that pressure differences in the radial direction of a TC are balanced by two forces that arise from tangential flow: the Coriolis force and centrifugal force. (2. GB assumes that flow in the radial (u) direction.3) In order to obtain the GB equation from the above system of equations.

(2. where v is tangential velocity. fields. r is radius. ρ is density.6) This equation can be used to solve for the tangential velocity or geopotential.1) and (2. When these simplifications are made. p is pressure and f is the Coriolis parameter. (2. and is given as: (2. and terms four (-v2/r). When using reconnaissance flight data and assuming gradient balance.2) form the equation for gradient balance.7 ) whereas the calculation of the geopotential height field requires numerical integration: . where radial and vertical velocities are negligible. five (1/ρ∙∂p/∂r) and six (-fv) remain in (2. 6 and Reynolds and viscous stresses (∇τ) are negligible.4) which is only valid in areas above the boundary layer. the remaining terms from (2. Based upon the assumptions used in the derivation.3) are eliminated. (2. Tangential velocity can be solved for directly. the following substitution for pressure can be made to incorporate the geopotential field (Holton 2004): (2.5) Making these simplifications and substitution yields the GB equation. .2).

When ε becomes small. Gradient balance is an assumption that has been applied differently by different authors. Azimuthally averaged gradient balance assumes only two independent variables: radius and pressure surface. 7 (2. the fields are averaged in that direction. with a total of ten data fields . Using aircraft reconnaissance data. GB was assessed for four different hurricanes from the 1957 and 1958 storm seasons. indicating that the GB equation describes the primary circulation in a TC when the tangential velocity is much larger than the radial velocity. Local gradient balance assumes three independent variables: radial distance from the centre of the TC. f. the only terms remaining form the GB equation.9 ) where Ωe is the rate of rotation of the earth and is equal to 7. degrees from north and pressure surface. This derivation provides some insight into the GB equation. The two predominate applications are to assume local gradient balance or azimuthally averaged gradient balance.8 )  The Coriolis parameter.2921∙10-5 rad s-1 and φ is the latitude. of the centre of the storm at the time of calculation. henceforth G1962). The method of averaging differs depending on the data source and analysis technique. The first study conducted on balance in TCs was by Gray (1962. in radians. To eliminate the dependence on the azimuthal component. is calculated according to: (2. This also serves as a justification of the assumptions used in the original derivation.

it is revealed that large improvements are made. The primitive equations are used to describe the atmospheric flow in the earth‟s atmosphere and include a version of the Navier Stokes equations that is tailored to atmospheric flows. The majority of Gray‟s analysis uses earth relative velocity fields. meaning that the forward speed of the storm was not removed. Gradient balance was assessed locally. 2. 8 being investigated. with average errors of approximately 25 percent. Large imbalances existed between the actual and modeled fields. for both velocity and geopotential fields. Gray found that the right quadrants typically exhibited higher modeled values than actual. The work of Willoughby (1979. GB was not an appropriate approximation. The general trends exist in the right and left quadrants. Willoughby defined a term ε that represented the ratio . whereas the left quadrants typically exhibited higher actual values than modeled. but the error is much lower. In the scale analysis.2 Azimuthally Averaged Fields Gradient balance has been used as a simplification to describe the bulk motion of the upper level wind field for many years. henceforth W1979) demonstrated the accuracy of modeling the upper level of a TC using scale analysis on the primitive equations. It is uncertain why the entire analysis was not completed using storm relative velocity fields. When Gray briefly discusses the effect of subtracting the forward speed from the velocity field. This introduces a bias into the analysis as the GB equation is derived assuming a storm relative velocity field. Gray found that for the ten data fields investigated.

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between the radial and tangential wind velocities. Once the scale analysis was

completed and simplifications were made to the primitive equations, the terms

with common powers for ε were collected. The zero order terms produced a non-

dimensional form of the GB equation.

The values used and results produced by the scale analysis were justified using

reconnaissance flight data at a pressure level of 700 hPa for Hurricane Anita

from the 1977 Atlantic Hurricane season. When the derived equations were

applied to the data very good agreement between a calculated gradient balance

velocity and the actual tangential velocity was obtained.

The conclusions from this paper were that the primary circulation in a TC is an

axisymmetric flow that agrees with the GB equations. Asymmetries in a TC arise

from flow in the radial and vertical directions and are considered secondary

circulations. If radial velocities are small compared to tangential velocities only

the zero order terms remain. So long as radial and vertical velocities are small,

the GB equation is a good representation of tangential velocities within a tropical

cyclone.

An extension of the conclusions of W1979 was proposed by Willoughby (1990,

henceforth W1990). The primary circulation of a TC is axisymmetric, tangential

flow and well represented by the GB equation and if the actual tangential

velocities in a TC are azimuthally averaged, it should also be well represented by

the GB equation. That is to say azimuthally averaged geopotential fields should

be in gradient balance with azimuthally averaged tangential velocity fields. This

hypothesis was tested using 977 profiles from nineteen storms between 1977 and

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1988. The data studied was between the 700 and 900 hPa pressure levels,

primarily at the 850 hPa pressure level.

Analysis of the data proved the hypothesis was correct. When azimuthally

averaged, the geopotential field was in gradient balance with the tangential

velocity to an average error of only 2 percent for strong storms. This conclusion,

however, could not be extended to geopotential and velocity fields that were not

azimuthally averaged:

The approximation is valid only in the azimuthal mean; no theoretical or

observational reason exists to expect gradient balance locally … because

the observed motions at a particular position are the sum of the balanced

vortex and asymmetric unbalanced motions.

Some dissent exists regarding the conclusions of W1990. Commenting on

W1990, Gray (1991, henceforth G1991) raised many issues with the work and

conclusions of W1990. The issues raised in G1991 were by in large a restatement

of results from Gray and Shea (1973). One of the major issues of contention was

the level of significant error. In W1990, the level of error was reported to be 2

percent but Gray argued that an error of even this magnitude indicates an

imbalance in the system. Instead of arguing for a system being in or out of GB,

Gray suggested that a more accurate description would be the degree of balance

that a system is in; this was based out of Gray‟s findings that no system could

ever be in „perfect‟ balance and that even small imbalances have a large impact on

the dynamics of a TC. The idea of some TCs being in GB and others not is

supported by the findings of Kepert (2006a and 2006b, henceforth K2006a and

K2006b). Gray‟s contention with W1990 had less to do with its results and more

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to do with its methodology. Gray did not dispute the results that W1990

presented; rather contrasting results were presented using a different

methodology. Gray noted that when data is azimuthally averaged about the

radius to maximum winds, rather than the centre of the storm, an imbalance is

apparent. In the region from the centre of the storm to the radius of maximum

winds the tangential winds of the storm are greater than those predicted by the

GB equation. In the region from the radius to maximum winds to the radial

extents of the storm the tangential winds of the storm are less than those

predicted by the GB. The azimuthal averaging technique of G1991 also differed in

that data from 61 radial passes and five TCs were averaged and presented

together rather than individually. The averaging technique of W1990 kept radial

passes separate when results were presented and only the overall error was

reported as a conglomerate.

The contrast between the methodology and results of W1990 and G1991

demonstrates the need for clear and well defined criteria for determining GB in

TCs.

2.3 Recent Studies

The work of Kepert in K2006a and K2006b presented two hurricanes:

Hurricanes Georges (K2006a) and Mitch (K2006b) from the 1998 Atlantic storm

season. Georges and Mitch were similar in size and structure at the time of

analysis. Analysis of Georges showed that at heights above 400 metres, the

tangential velocity was in gradient balance with the pressure field. Analysis of

Mitch, however, showed that from heights of 400 to 2000 metres, the tangential

dictate whether a storm is in gradient balance. That is to say. A model that is commonly used in this capacity in a variety of applications is the Holland pressure profile (Holland 1980). parametric equation for pressure based upon an exponential decay function. It represents a horizontal cross-section of the pressure field and is given as: (2. Hurricane Georges was in GB and Hurricane Mitch was out of balance. Although they were of similar sizes and strengths at the time of analysis. These differences. in this case interaction with land and storm weakening. Conversely. It was also far from any landmasses. 12 velocity was out of gradient balance with the pressure field.4 Other Modeling Techniques Many models exist that are able to recreate pressure or velocity fields. Hurricane Georges was intensifying and a few hours short of its maximum intensity.10) . At the time of analysis. there were also some differences in the characteristics of Hurricanes Georges and Mitch. Hurricane Mitch was approximately 80 km off of the coast of Honduras and was slightly weakening at a rate of 1 hPa hr-1. coupled with differences in structure provide the reasoning behind the differing states of GB. Kepert‟s studies demonstrated that certain storm characteristics. 2. The Holland pressure profile is an axisymmetric. An analysis of Hurricane Georges and Mitch in K2006b provided insight into these differences.

. Figure 2. Two other deficiencies were discussed by Willoughby and Rahn (2004). Δp is the difference between the central and ambient pressures. Hurricane Anita. b is a shape parameter that varies based upon the structure of the storm and rm is the radius to maximum winds. pc is the central pressure of the storm. In reality. The equation for the Holland pressure profile in (2. 13 where p(r) is the pressure profile.A comparison of actual tangential velocity (lightweight line) and a velocity profile calculated using the Holland pressure profile (heavyweight line). They used least-squares fits to fit the Holland pressure profile to each of the datasets and found two consistent trends emerge. The popularity of the Holland pressure profile is largely due to the ease in which it can be applied. 2006). 2 September 1977. Figure from Willoughby and Rahn (2004). who completed an assessment of the Holland pressure profile using 493 datasets from reconnaissance flights between the years of 1977 and 2000. deficiencies exist in the model.1 . The first deficiency was alluded to above: it forces the assumption of axisymmetric flow.4). However. The deficiencies of the Holland pressure profile discussed by Willoughby and Rahn (2004) are evident. storms are asymmetric (Mueller et al.10) can be used to calculate velocity using (2.

9 August 1980. Additionally. irregular storm features such as secondary peaks in wind speed were not captured. the decrease in wind speed on the outer regions of analysis (typically from two to three radii to maximum winds.1. This is evident in Figure 2. Reconnaissance flights occur at .2. the peak in wind speed at the radius to maximum winds is too broad (as seen from 10 to 50 km in Figure 2.2 .1.1). Hurricane Allen. 14 The trends are both evident in Figure 2. Figure from Willoughby and Rahn (2004). showing the inability of the Holland pressure profile to model secondary storm peaks. 9 August 1980. The nature of the Holland pressure profile means that it is not possible to directly validate it against reconnaissance flight data. which gives the calculated Holland pressure profile wind speed and the actual tangential wind speed for Hurricane Anita on 2 September 1977. Figure 2.As with Figure 2. First. which gives the velocities for Hurricane Allen.1) is too rapid. as seen from 50 km in Figure 2. and second.

the geopotential field must be in gradient balance with the tangential velocity field. Therefore. 1991). This would overcome the limitations of the Holland pressure profile that have been described previously. 1990. b. Various models for the shape parameter. primary goal in this study is to assess local gradient balance to determine where and when it exists within a TC. Although deficiencies clearly exist in the Holland pressure profile. The intention is to improve the performance of the risk models by improving one of the models upon which they are based. Willoughby and Rahn were required to make assumptions and simplifications in order to use reconnaissance flight data with the Holland pressure profile. Vickery and Wadhera 2008). In order for (2. A secondary goal is to reassess azimuthally averaged gradient balance to see how well the current study agrees with the contrasting studies of Willoughby (1979. . 15 constant pressure surfaces. have been developed based upon storm parameters such as latitude. 1991) and Gray (1962. These models generate asymmetrical velocity fields from symmetrical Holland pressure profiles. maximum wind speed and radius to maximum winds (Willoughby and Rahn 2004. The motivation behind this study has been to investigate the possibility of replacing the Holland pressure profile in these risk models with one based upon the geopotential field using the relationship described in (2.5). its usage goes beyond the simple generation of pressure profiles. It is commonly used in many hurricane risk models (Vickery and Wadhera 2008).5) to be valid. whereas the Holland pressure profile is given at a constant height.

longitude and geopotential height from a TC reconnaissance flight during Hurricane Dean. The flights occur on a constant pressure surface. 20 August 2007. meaning the altitude of the aircraft is altered to maintain a constant pressure. These missions.Data Preparation Reconnaissance missions are flown into tropical cyclones from early stages of development until their eventual dissipation.1 . obtain data at the upper level of a storm. geopotential height and pressure. are recorded during these missions. Quality control of the data is performed by the crew of the aircraft before it is published by the National Hurricane Center (National Hurricane Center 2010). Quantities such as wind velocity. 16 Chapter 3 .A plot showing the latitude. as well as the latitude and longitude of these readings. temperature. which are conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United States Air Force Reserve (USAFR). . Figure 3. where boundary layer effects are negligible. The colourbar gradient represents the time progression of the flight.

The assumption that ∂/∂t is zero implies that the TC is in a steady state. or that the ∂/∂t terms are much smaller than the terms that remain in the GB equation. and simplifications thereof. such as when a TC is interacting with land rather than water. or the terms that contain u are much smaller than those in the GB equation. The 850 hPa pressure level. many different pressure (and height) levels have been used. Although . viscous forces and u terms to be zero. is thought to be the upper level of the boundary layer. The most important consideration when choosing a pressure level is the equations. Both the 850 and 700 hPa pressure levels are believed to be outside of the boundary layer and thus unaffected by surface friction. 2009). The same is also the case for the u term. however.1 Pressure Level Selection In the various studies of GB preceding this study. The assumption that ∂/∂θ is zero implies that the TC is axisymmetric or. 17 3. that are the basis of the GB equation. The simplifications involved in generating the GB equation are to assume the ∂/∂t. ∂/∂θ. radial velocity is zero. The assumption that viscous forces are zero implies that the TC is unaffected by surface friction at the pressure level of interest. It is important to look back at the simplifications that were made to investigate their significance. so it is possible that in some cases. just above it. especially in terms of which pressure level to select. once again. surface friction could affect it (Vickery et al. It is this assumption that assists in deciding which pressure level to study. that the ∂/∂θ terms are much smaller than the terms that remain in the GB equation. or the amount of surface friction that has diffused to the pressure surface is negligible.

This pressure level is also of historical significance. reconnaissance flights are typically flown along the intercardinal directions through a TC meaning that the data coverage is not continuous and in many areas nonexistent. 3. In order to transform the data so that it can be used to analyze GB. It is important to choose the correct algorithm for the task that is required. which allows for it to be converted from earth relative to storm relative coordinates. The storm relative flight data for velocity and geopotential are then objectively analyzed to create a discretized grid.2 and 3. (1984). For example. Kepert (2005). the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) of NOAA . However. The details of the centre track and objective analysis algorithms are given in sections 3. Reconnaissance flight data has a high temporal resolution. also possible for the 700 hPa pressure level no documented cases of this have been found and therefore the assumption that viscous forces are negligible seems to be more appropriate for the 700 hPa pressure level. the following process was undertaken. with the time between readings typically being 1 or 10 s.5 below. Willoughby and Chelmow (1982)). 18 this is. the 700 hPa pressure level was chosen. For this reason. The data was used to create high resolution tropical cyclone centre tracks. in theory.2 Centre Track Many different algorithms exist for the centre tracking of tropical cyclones (see Marks et al. as the analysis in W1979 was undertaken at the 700 hPa pressure level. This grid is a circular 2 dimensional field with 41 values in the radial direction and 16 values in the azimuthal direction. Jarvinen et al. (1992).

Although this data is useful for understanding the general motion of a storm. dating back to 2002. 19 maintains the Best Track Database. The Hurricane Research Division (HRD) of NOAA has used the WC1982 algorithm and compiled the results for most recent tropical cyclones. .1° and 0. which provides the centre locations at 6 hour intervals and a track connecting them for all tropical storms since 1886. The inadequacies of using the Best Track data to convert data from earth relative to storm relative coordinates has been well documented by Mueller et al. The first algorithm is by Willoughby and Chelmow (1982. (2006) and Kepert (2005. henceforth WC1982) and uses a linear least squares minimization of velocity data to find the centre. These are both statistically based models that rely on a least squares minimization of aircraft reconnaissance data from flights through tropical cyclones. The WC1982 algorithm can be solved directly without iteration. This represents a precision on the order of 10 km for 0. The NHC Best Track reports centre locations to 0.2 using NHC‟s Best Track and HRD‟s implementation of the WC1982 algorithm (whose results will henceforth be referred to as WCHRD). it lacks the accuracy needed for certain calculations that require a precise centre location. When the two methods are compared.001°.1° whereas the WCHRD centre locations are given to 0. These tracks are based upon a variety of data sources and represent a subjectively smoothed representation of the actual track. it is clear that the WC1982 algorithm provides much more detail on the motion of Katrina.001°.1 km for 0. Two centre tracking algorithms are discussed in this section. 2006a. A track for Hurricane Katrina is shown in Figure 3. 2006b).

2.Track of Hurricane Katrina (2005) with NHC’s Best Track Data and HRD’s implementation of the Willoughby/Chelmow Algorithm. The algorithm first determines which data point is closest to the centre of . have a sampling frequency of 1 minute.1 Model Overview Most flight data records available. which were also non-linear. This algorithm uses a non- linear least squares minimization of pressure data to determine the centre of the tropical cyclone. including the NOAA and USAFR datasets. The TPF algorithm fits a parametric pressure profile to the pressure data and locates the centre based on where the error is minimized. 3. or TPF. have a sampling frequency of 10 seconds. The WC1982 algorithm uses the wind direction to determine the centre of the storm. Kepert used the Levenberg-Marquadt (LM) method to solve for the non-linear parameters of the parametric pressure profile as well as the centre locations. although few. 20 Figure 3.2 . The data resolution for WCHRD is much higher than for the Best Track. The second algorithm to be investigated is by Kepert (2005) and will be referred to as the translating pressure fit algorithm. although some have a sampling frequency of 1 second and some.

and are defined as „lines of position‟. . Thus. As given in WC1982. (Xn. These lines of position intersect with each other in the general location of the centre of the storm. The WC1982 algorithm uses the aircraft coordinates and wind direction to calculate the distance between the intersected point and the unknown centre of the storm. Lines perpendicular to the wind direction are determined. 21 the storm by defining a closeness parameter. this can be found.1) where D is the geopotential height deficit value.2) where sn is the distance from the intersected point to the centre of the storm for data point n. the geopotential height and velocity decrease until they reach a minimum at the centre.Yn) is the aircraft coordinates for data point n. The weighted root mean square value for sn can be calculated and minimized. As the radial distance from the centre of the storm decreases. θn is the wind direction for data point n and (XC. This creates a point cloud in the general location of the centre of the storm. H. which determines the centre of the storm. A linear least squares analysis is then carried out to determine an estimate of the centre of the storm. The line of position associated with the location of the minimized value of H is intersected with the lines of position within 5 km of this point. The location where the combination of geopotential and velocity are a minimum provides a good estimate of the centre of the storm. H is calculated as being: (3. according to: (3.YC) is the location of the yet to be determined centre of the storm. g is the value of gravitational acceleration and V is the wind speed.

Wn is 10 when sn is calculated at the minimized value of H and 1 otherwise. the centre is chosen by the WC1982 algorithm as the point that minimizes the error between the latitude and longitude of the point cloud and the centre. In effect. the location of the centre of the storm can be estimated based upon where the weighted RMS error is minimized.3).3 . with reconnaissance flight path indicated by the dotted line. 22 Figure 3. and applying (3.2) into (3.4) ( 3.5) to (3.4) and (3.5 ) In the above equations. wind directions indicated by arrows and lines of position indicated by dashed lines. SL2 is the weighted RMS value of sn and Wn is a weighting factor. which was determined by trial and error.Schematic of the WC1982 model. Substituting (3.3) (3. The equations that result from this process are given below. When the lines of position are intersected a point cloud is created. .3). ( 3.

as well as by Kepert (2002. 23 ( 3. A modified version of the HPP. as given in (2. The dependence of the HPP on the radial distance from the centre of the storm is used to determine the location of the centre of the storm. Rd is the gas constant for dry air (287.8 ) where p is the pressure level of the reconnaissance flight. for use with the TPF algorithm is given below: . T is the air temperature and  is the geopotential field. is that of Holland (1980). has been widely validated and its limitations are well known (Kepert 2005). The parametric profile used in this paper.06 J/kg/K).7 ) XC and YC can be solved for directly using (3. 2005). The TPF algorithm finds the parameters for a parametric profile based upon the pressure profile obtained from the data. Many parametric models exist that can predict the pressure profile of a tropical cyclone based upon certain characteristics. The geopotential field is used to calculate the hydrostatic pressure as: (3.6) ( 3. The Holland pressure profile (HPP) was chosen because it relies on only four parameters. The TPF algorithm is significantly more complex than the WC1982 algorithm.7) without the use of numerical methods.6) and (3. The TPF algorithm relies on the observation that pressure decreases as the radial distance from the centre of the storm is decreased.10).

β = {vm. The TPF algorithm uses the Levenberg- Marquadt (LM) method for non-linear least squares to solve for the unknown parameters.9 ) where Tv is the virtual temperature. rm. temperature and the dew point temperature (Td. which is obtained from the reconnaissance flight data. but the cost function will be minimized using the assumption that the storm centre is stationary. In order to minimize (3. If the linear velocity of the storm is not included. uC. with (uC. YC. vC}. b. This yields 8 non-linear equations which can be solved using numerical methods. in °C) and is given by the equation below: (3. which makes the LM method more efficient .8). The virtual temperature is dependent on pressure. The LM method is used because all of the unknown parameters are differentiable with respect to (3. pc} and a = {XC. it is differentiated with respect to β and a.10) The TPF algorithm uses the HPP to minimize the cost function. 24 ( 3. and these differential equations are set to 0.11).11) where pi is calculated based upon (3.11). vC) representing the linear velocity of the centre of the storm. a systematic error is introduced into the values for the centre of the storm because the centre location is changing with time. which is given by: (3.

10 and 60 seconds. TPF and WCHRD algorithms are very similar for the time period investigated: from approximately 19:20 to 23:30 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). 3. This is a further example of the inadequacies of the Best Track data. USA. Results for the WC1982.1. as well as Figure 3. As the WCHRD algorithm was . all three methods show a significant latitude demarcation below the Best Track results if a straight line is drawn between the two Best Track points that lie on either side of the data. This distance between these two points is approximately 1. 25 than Gauss Newton (Kepert 2005). The first results to be discussed are from 28 August 2005. The LM method has been implemented according to Kepert (2002. There are some differences between corresponding points for the WC1982 and WCHRD algorithms.4 to Figure 3.6. most notably at the second point from the left.2 Results The results of the algorithms have been compared against those for HRD‟s Best Track Database as well as WCHRD. The WC1982 and TPF algorithms will be computed using data frequencies of 1. which is one day before Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana. This demarcation can be attributed to the lack of precision in the Best Track data. These storms were selected because a large amount of data has been collected by NOAA for these storms and WCHRD tracks exist for verification. which is within WC1982‟s stated accuracy level of 3 km (Willoughby and Chelmow 1982). For the one second data.2. 2005) and Press et al. The results are given in Table 3.5 km. This has been done for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita from 2005. (1992). Slight differences in the implementation of the WC1982 and WCHRD algorithms are possible.

2 89.5471 88. Method Latitude (° N) Longitude (° W) Time (UTC) WC1982.3 88.8565 19:22:58 TPF.1083 22:30:53 TPF. 60 Second 26.6168 22:23:00 Data WC1982.1061 22:30:40 WC1982.8506 19:23:00 TPF.5426 88.0367 89. WCHRD and Best Track Algorithms.8555 19:23:10 WC1982. 60 Second 27.9289 20:38:22 TPF. 1 Second Data 27. 10 Second Data 26.1784 23:25:30 WC1982.7740 88.0351 89.5203 88. 10 Second Data 27.0245 89. 1 Second Data 26.0260 89.1668 23:25:13 WCHRD 26.8499 19:22:58 TPF.0750 89.0701 89.5428 88.560 88. 10 Second Data 27.7251 88.1063 22:31:00 TPF. 26 completed while Willoughby was employed by NOAA he may have been able to give a fuller description of the algorithm than what is available in Willoughby and Chelmow (1982). 60 Second Data 26. 10 Second Data 27.1564 23:25:13 TPF. Table 3.1069 22:30:53 TPF.756 88. 10 and 60 second data intervals have been reported for WC1982 and TPF.1524 23:25:35 WC1982.5450 88. 1 Second Data 26. 60 Second Data 27.9247 20:38:22 TPF.0787 89.7961 23:18:00 Data TPF.1571 23:25:13 TPF.6 18:00:00 Best Track 27. 10 Second Data 27.Centre Fixes for Hurricane Katrina on 28 August 2005 for the WC1982.8859 20:38:40 WC1982. 10 Second Data 26.855 19:23:00 WCHRD 26.7460 88.0242 89. 60 Second Data 26.9279 20:38:30 TPF. 60 Second Data 27.9360 20:38:28 WC1982. 10 Second Data 26.113 22:31:00 Best Track 26. TPF.3074 87. 1 Second Data 26. 1 Second Data 27.7476 88.0670 89. 10 Second Data 26. 1 Second Data 27.8496 19:23:05 WC1982.923 20:38:14 WCHRD 26. 1 Second Data 26.1 . 1 Second Data 27.1106 22:30:41 WC1982.7455 88. Results for 1.3206 89.985 89.2 0:00:00 (29 Aug) .0623 89.

No discernable trend or categorical difference can be determined between the WC1982 algorithms and the TPF .4.4).4 .5 . 27 Figure 3. The TPF algorithm provides results consistent with those from WC1982 and WCHRD for the 1 second data (Figure 3. The data used has a frequency of one second. but with a data frequency of 10 seconds.Same as Figure 3.Comparison of centre finding algorithms for Hurricane Katrina between 19:00 and 23:30 UTC 28 August 2005. Figure 3.

The WC1982 algorithm appears to become unstable for a data frequency of 10 seconds. The differences between the three algorithms are minimal and generally produce the same results. The TPF algorithm does not seem to be affected by the change in data frequency from 1 to 10 seconds. The results are very similar to the WCHRD data as well as the TPF and WC1982 data for the 1 second data frequency. The reason for this instability is due to the small amount of data points that can be used by the WC1982 algorithm with a data frequency of 10 seconds. The small differences present can be attributed to the differences in the algorithms themselves.5 (10 second data) and Figure 3. Only five data points can be used for the WC1982 algorithm on either side of the minimized value of H when a data frequency of 10 seconds is used. This is because the TPF algorithm keeps track of the motion of the hurricane so the extent of the data that the TPF algorithm can handle is approximately 40 km rather than 5 km for the WC1982 algorithm. This limitation is placed on the TPF algorithm only because at distances above 40 km from the centre of the storm.4 (1 second data). the HPP begins to deviate from the actual data. . indicating that the TPF algorithm is insensitive to the changes in data frequency. This is consistent with the findings of Willoughby and Chelmow (1982) as well as Kepert (2005). Similar results are also viewed for the TPF algorithm for the 60 second data frequency. Large differences are evident when comparing the results of WC1982 in Figure 3. 28 algorithm. Any more than five data points leads to clearly incorrect results and the distance from the minimized value of H begins to exceed the 5 km radius suggested by Willoughby and Chelmow (1982).

Data frequencies of one and ten seconds have been considered. and the centre points found by the algorithm based on these two points are clearly incorrect.8.6. The second storm considered was Hurricane Rita. with the results given in Table 3.6 .4. The WC1982 algorithm produces clearly erroneous results for this data frequency. Only 2 local minima for H could be found by the algorithm. A data frequency of 60 seconds produces obviously incorrect data for the WC1982 algorithm. from 16:00 to 21:00 UTC. 29 Figure 3.Same as Figure 3.7 and Figure 3.2 as well as Figure 3. but with a data frequency of one minute. WC1982 and WCHRD all showed very good agreement for the one second . The TPF. and the difference is more profound for the WC1982 method. The track that is found is approximately perpendicular to the previous WC1982 tracks. Only very small differences exist between the one and ten second data for the TPF algorithm. using data from 22 September 2005. as can be seen in Figure 3. The results from Rita show very good agreement with those from Katrina.

8720 16:19:00 WC. Table 3.2120 19:13:00 TPF.3 12:00:00 Best Track 25.5402 89.8542 89.0 89.735 89.7584 89.4391 20:43:16 TPF. 30 data frequency. 1 Second Data 25.2 88.8554 89. 10 Second Data 25.8010 16:15:48 TPF. 10 Second Data 25.436 20:43:38 Best Track 25.2142 19:13:04 TPF.8.7973 89. 10 Second Data 25.9 0:00:00 (23 Sept) .Centre Fixes for Hurricane Rita on 22 September 2005 for the WC1982.0562 17:45:00 WC.434 88.860 89.4617 20:43:20 TPF.4538 20:43:31 WC.5484 89. and also agrees with the results of Katrina.1 18:00:00 Best Track 26.4008 88.214 19:13:07 WCHRD 25.015 17:45:05 WCHRD 25. 1 Second Data 25.558 89. Method Latitude (° N) Longitude (° W) Time Stamp (UTC) WC.4267 88.7915 89. 10 Second Data 25.0362 17:44:53 TPF. 10 Second Data 25. TPF. 1 Second Data 25.0274 17:44:50 TPF. 1 Second Data 25. 1 Second Data 25.7734 89.0370 17:45:01 WC.6 89. 10 Second Data 25.5400 89.815 16:15:49 WCHRD 25. The difference between these three algorithms and the Best Track algorithm is evident in Figure 3.4184 88. Results for 1 and 10 second data intervals have been reported for WC and TPF. WCHRD and Best Fit Algorithms.2189 19:13:00 WC.5668 89. 1 Second Data 25. 1 Second Data 25.2 . 1 Second Data 25. 10 Second Data 25.7 and Figure 3.2035 19:13:13 WC.8640 89.8073 16:15:52 WC.8344 16:15:50 TPF. 10 Second Data 25.4535 20:43:10 WCHRD 25.4073 88.8404 89.

Figure 3. 31 Figure 3. The data used has a frequency of one second.7 .Comparison of centre finding algorithms for Hurricane Rita between 16:00 and 21:00 UTC 22 September 2005.7.Same as Figure 3. but with a data frequency of 10 seconds. No smoothing of the data has been used in the algorithms as preliminary results with and without data smoothing show negligible differences. .8 .

The TPF algorithm did not display this data frequency dependence. Three dimensional spline fits cannot be calculated directly so to overcome this issue.2. The only complication with this spline fit is that there are three fields that must be associated: latitude. the increase in consistency with respect to data frequencies indicates that it is the preferable method when tropical cyclone track data is not available on the NOAA website.3 Spline Fit Application of the TPF algorithm creates a series of discrete points. 3. The WC1982 algorithm displayed a strong dependency on the frequency of data used.3 Conclusions The WC1982 and TPF algorithms have both been used successfully to predict the location of the centre of Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma. Creating a „continuous‟ series of points is done so that the centre of the storm can be determined at any time throughout the existence of the storm. the track is estimated with a spline fit. The time is known for every found centre from the TPF algorithm so time differences between two centres can be . the spline fit is first completed in two dimensions for latitude and longitude. and was shown to be stable for data frequencies of up to 60 seconds. This is because the majority of the data available has a sampling frequency of ten seconds. 32 3. It became apparent that a data frequency of one second was required for the WC1982 algorithm to produce acceptable results. Although the TPF algorithm is more computationally expensive and difficult to implement. To create a „continuous‟ series of points. longitude and time.

Once the two dimensional spline has been fit.Storm tracks for the storms used in this study. dates and number of data fields studied is given in Table 3. Although only one storm had a maximum intensity of a tropical storm.9.3. distance and change in centre velocity.3. including names. Figure 3. as given in Table 3.9 . The time at any point between two TPF centres is bilinearly interpolated based upon the change in time. . The translational velocity of the TPF centre is also known. The tracks produced for all 30 storms are given in Figure 3. 33 calculated. many of the data fields used in this study were when the storms were classified as tropical storms. the „spline‟ distance can be determined between two centres as well. Information regarding the studied storms.

3 October Lili 8 Category 4 2002 Noel 1-2 November 2007 2 Category 1 Omar 15-16 October 2008 3 Category 4 Ophelia 10-15 September 2005 7 Category 1 Rita 18-24 September 2005 11 Category 5 Stan 3-4 October 2005 2 Category 1 Wilma 19-24 October 2005 5 Category 5 . 34 Table 3. number of data fields and maximum storm intensity according to Saffir-Simpson scale Storm Number of Data Maximum Storm Date Range Name Fields Intensity Alex 3 August 2004 2 Category 3 Arlene 9-11 June 2005 6 Tropical Storm Charley 12-14 August 2004 5 Category 4 Cindy 4-5 July 2005 3 Category 1 Claudette 7-15 July 2003 12 Category 1 Dean 16-22 August 2007 9 Category 5 Dennis 6-10 July 2005 9 Category 4 Dolly 20-23 July 2008 5 Category 2 Emily 13-19 July 2005 12 Category 5 Ernesto 24-31 July 2006 10 Category 1 Fabian 1-6 September 2003 14 Category 4 Felix 2-4 September 2007 5 Category 5 Florence 10-11 September 2006 2 Category 1 30 August .The storm names.3 . date ranges.5 September Frances 2004 13 Category 4 26 August .1 September Gustav 12 Category 4 2008 Helene 17-20 September 2006 4 Category 3 Ike 5-13 September 2008 11 Category 4 Irene 12-14 August 2005 7 Category 2 Isabel 12-18 September 2003 10 Category 5 Isidore 20-26 September 2002 5 Category 3 Ivan 6-16 September 2004 16 Category 5 Jeanne 15-26 September 2004 8 Category 3 Katrina 24-29 August 2005 12 Category 5 23 September .

10 to Figure 3. The relevant equations are given in Appendix A. This yields wind speeds and directions relative to the storm centre.4 Coordinate Transform In order to transform the data fields from earth relative. The effect of making these transformations is shown in Figure 3. easting/northing coordinates. the Azimuthal Equidistant projection was utilized. the storm speed and direction is subtracted from the raw velocity data. latitude/longitude coordinates to storm relative. not to the earth. Figure 3.10 .Partial reconnaissance flight track for Hurricane Dean. 20 August 2007 in Earth Relative coordinates . The wind speeds and directions obtained from the data fields are also in terms of earth relative coordinates and need to be transformed into storm relative.12 below. This projection gives each data point a distance in metres north and east of the storm centre. 35 3. To do this.

The forward direction of the storm is indicated by the black arrow. In this cylindrical coordinate system.As with Figure 3. 36 Figure 3. Figure 3. The field has been rotated so that the direction of the storm is north.12 .As with Figure 3.11 . as indicated by the arrow. the data has been rotated so . indicated by the black dots. The analysis grid has been overlaid with the grid points.10 but in Storm Relative coordinates. The primary direction of the flow is in the tangential direction and as such it was beneficial to convert the coordinate system a final time from Cartesian to Cylindrical.10 but in Storm Relative coordinates.

In the Mueller/Thacker (MT) method. (2005) and is based upon an objective analysis method described by Thacker (1988). The MT method minimizes the following cost function: (3. Two objective analysis methods were studied. This means that 0° is the direction that the storm is traveling in. The amount of smoothness is controlled by parameters set in the algorithm. The first was outlined by Mueller et al. to fill an evenly spaced grid with data points derived from the reconnaissance flight data. The combination of smoothness and minimization of error was unique to this method and had been used by Mueller et al.12) . the error between the raw data and the analyzed field is minimized while the smoothness of the analyzed field is maximized.5 Objective Analysis One of the issues with reconnaissance flight data is the data coverage is nonexistent in most areas of the storm. 180° is S and 270° is W). This is a common practice in meteorology and recently has been successfully applied to TCs (Mueller et al. concurrently. 37 that it is orientated with the direction that the centre of the storm is traveling. for a very similar purpose as this study. 3. and angles increase positively in the clockwise direction (90° is E. 2005). Objective analysis has the additional benefits of smoothing the data and creating a standard set of fields that could be easily compared between different data fields and storms. One method to expand the data coverage is to objectively analyze the data.

The Barnes algorithm was the second objective analysis method investigated. α and β are smoothing parameters. When δrr and δ are applied to Uij. 38 where uk is the raw data. Uij is the grid data at point (i. I is the number of grid data points in the radial direction and J is the number of grid data points in the tangential direction.14) In the MT method. The ellipse is also curved. δrr and δ are the discretized second derivative operators in the radial and tangential directions. respectively. UK is the interpolated value from the grid at the location of uk. with the semi-major axis in the azimuthal direction and the semi- minor axis in the radial direction. K is the number of raw data points. This increases smoothing in the azimuthal direction by increasing the influence of the raw data in this direction and decreases the smoothing in the radial direction by decreasing the influence of the raw data in the radial direction.j) terms control the smoothness of the gridded data. they yield: (3. Smoothness is achieved in Benjamin and Seaman‟s implementation by having an elliptical rather than circular radius of influence. resembling the shape of a banana. The advantage of the Barnes algorithm is that it is computationally inexpensive as compared to the MT method. the k terms control the error between the raw data and the grid data and the (i. Error minimization is achieved by enforcing a radius of influence on a grid point where raw data close to a grid point have greater influence on it than the raw data far away from the grid point.13) (3.j). Parameters outlined by Benjamin and Seaman (1985) were used in the implementation as they had been optimized for curved flow. .

j). whereas the Barnes algorithm produced fields that resembled squares with rounded edges. In the areas that data was present. set to 20 km for this application. which was taken to be the azimuthal average of the quantity being objectively analyzed. rij is the distance from Uij the centre of curvature. 39 The weighting function. the gridded data matched the raw data quite well. . rk is the radius of curvature at data point k. Although the Benjamin and Seaman implementation of the Barnes method was specifically for curved systems. k is the azimuthal angle of curvature to point k. A qualitative comparison showed little difference in error between the gridded and raw data for both methods.16 ) where sm is the distance from point m to the grid point at (i.15 ) (3. it did not fully capture the curved nature of the geopotential field. the .17) where Uk. Uij is as in 3. is given by: (3.j) and Ra is an arbitrary radius of influence.14. The MT algorithm was able to produce fields that were sufficiently and realistically curved. Ek is Cressman‟s isotropic function.0 is the initial guess for the field. Ck. The differences came in the smoothness and curved nature of the data. . ij is the azimuthal angle of curvature to point (i. The weighting function is used in the Barnes algorithm to find Uij. given as: (3.

. the algorithm is insufficient for the purposes of this study. 18 August 2007.Contour plot of the Barnes algorithm implementation for the velocity field of Hurricane Dean.13 . 18 August 2007. 40 Figure 3.13. As with Figure 3. Figure 3. The unrealistic straight edges and sharp corners indicate that despite being optimized for curved flow. unrealistic straight edges and sharp corners make the Barnes algorithm unsuitable for this study.14 .Contour plot of the Barnes algorithm implementation for the geopotential field of Hurricane Dean.

16 .15 . As with the geopotential field.Contour plot of the MT algorithm implementation for the velocity field of Hurricane Dean. 18 August 2007. . Figure 3. The MT method was utilized as it provided a more realistic representation of the geopotential and velocity fields. 41 Figure 3. this field is much more realistic than the corresponding Barnes algorithm field. The MT algorithm produces a field that is much more realistic and circular. 18 August 2007.Contour plot of the MT algorithm implementation for the geopotential field of Hurricane Dean.

The grid was split into 16 sections in the azimuthal direction and 41 sections in the radial direction. plotted with raw data () used to create the field.17 . The error between the raw geopotential data and the objectively analyzed field was minimal.0 percent and a standard deviation of 2 percent for radii from 0 to 200 km. .Objectively analyzed geopotential field at the 700 hPa pressure level. 42 The velocity and geopotential fields were both objectively analyzed. Figure 3. 20 August 2007. with a mean average error of 0. Hurricane Dean.

Objectively analyzed tangential velocity field with raw data () plotted.18 . Hurricane Dean. A direct comparison of the error of the geopotential and velocity fields is not possible because of the differences in magnitudes for geopotential and velocity values. Typical velocities are on the order of 30 m/s whereas typical geopotential . 20 August 2007. 43 Figure 3.

with some individual error points reaching higher than 1000%. . 44 values are on the order of 3000 m. The result of this error level issue was that the velocity fields were visually inspected so that poor fits were removed from the data set. Velocities at the centre of a storm approach 0. increasing the percentage error dramatically.

The difference between values. An acknowledgment of the amount of data to be analyzed as well as the purpose of this study must be taken into account. When applied to tropical cyclones. Within tropical cyclones. This indicates that percentage differences from velocity will be on the order of ten .1 Gradient Balance Criteria What constitutes GB remains a difficult question to answer. One consideration is which field will be used to calculate the percentage difference: velocity or geopotential. quantitative criterion for GB so that it can be easily applied and is not arbitrary. These two terms represent the outward force generated from the tangential velocity and the inward force generated by the pressure gradient. With the amount of data to be analyzed. 4. gradient balance is a convenient simplification of the upper level wind field because it is easy to implement. the two dominant terms in the GB equation are the v2/r term and the ∂/∂r term. Typical velocity values are on the order of 10 metres per second whereas geopotential values are on the order of 1000 metres. the Coriolis force. are on the order of 10 metres per second for velocity and 100 metres for geopotential. 45 Chapter 4 . The scope of this study is to examine all reconnaissance flight data between 2002 and 2008 that took place at a 700 hPa pressure level. This constitutes 230 separately analyzed fields for geopotential and velocity. The fv term has a smaller impact and represents the outward force generated by the rotation of the earth.Gradient Balance Analysis The derivation of the GB equation was completed in Chapter 2. say between the largest and smallest value. it is necessary to develop a clear.

46 times larger than percentage differences from geopotential. Of the three dominant studies by Willoughby (1979. setting a criterion refers to selecting a percentage error that will be a threshold for gradient balance. some studies rely on bounds set based upon a percentage difference.1 Error Criteria of Previous Studies The first way to determine an appropriate error criterion is to look at what has been used by previous studies. anything below that threshold is in balance and anything above is not. and relatively close (within 10%) to the maximum value.1. No storm is likely to ever be in perfect balance (G1991). Unfortunately. Alternatively. This brings consistency and allows for comparisons to be made between the results of previous studies and this one. In addition. Gray (1962. a plot is presented and commented upon as to whether or not it is in gradient balance (Kepert 2006a and 2006b). In this case.10 percent. The error values for this analysis will be based upon a comparison of the actual tangential velocity and the calculated gradient balance velocity. so long as the values produced by the GB equation are remotely reasonable. This study will calculate a gradient balance velocity based upon the geopotential field. Setting a proper criterion for what qualifies for gradient balance is very important. Some studies use a qualitative approach. the minimum value for velocity is zero whereas the minimum value for geopotential is still on the order of 1000. W1979 used +/. 1991) and Kepert (2006a and 2006b). a variety of criteria have been used. no consensus exists on what is a proper criterion for gradient balance in previous studies. Still others report numerical results . 1991). 1990. 4. The first consideration is the criteria used in previous studies.

Many different analysis techniques can be utilized in order to study the results. its results were compared to those of Kepert‟s. The centre finding algorithm used is thought to do a good job of finding where the centre of the storm is at any given time but there is no way to tell where the „correct‟ location of the centre is. These flights are flown through turbulent storms at a relatively high flight speed as compared to the wind speed.2 Error Level in Analysis The error introduced into the analysis up to the point of the gradient balance calculation must be considered when setting a criterion for gradient balance. In order to verify that the algorithm was operating at an acceptable level/properly. The second introduction of error is from the development of the hurricane track and the conversion of the data from an earth relative to storm relative coordinate system. The first is in the collection of data during the reconnaissance flights.1. The significance/size of this error. W1990 reported that the average difference between GB and actual data was 3%. as well as equipment malfunction or operator error. is unknown. 47 irrespective of bounds. It is possible that error could be introduced due to these unstable conditions. and whether it is biased or unbiased. there are four areas where error could be introduced. . No attempt has been made to collectively analyze storms to get an idea of how many are in gradient balance and how many are not. Previously most analysis has been conducted on a storm by storm basis. An error threshold must be set at a level that is higher than the amount of error that has been introduced due to the analysis methods used. The reported accuracy from Kepert (2005) for the TPF method is 2 km. For this study. 4.

An important note regarding the track is that accuracy is required where the reconnaissance flights have taken place. which is the centre of the storm.N) = (0. Once again.0). The second is that the minimum in either the velocity or geopotential data should be located at (E. it . it is likely that the spline produced for the track is reasonable. Two characteristics should be present if a correct storm track has been produced. The amount of error introduced by the centre finding algorithm and the spline fit of the data cannot be determined. nor can a bias be deduced. all fields were visually inspected prior to objective analysis to ensure that the quality of the storm centres and tracks were sufficient. Also related to the centre track is the error introduced by the spline fit that is used to connect the points. For this reason. If both of these criteria are met. Based upon the agreement between this implementation of the centre finding algorithm and Kepert‟s. An indirect method was used to verify the data: the quality of the track produced is evident when the data is converted from earth relative to storm relative coordinates. it is not possible to verify against the actual storm track because that data does not exist. with an average difference of less than 0.001° for both latitude and longitude for the 218 centre fixes from five storms verified. Accuracy in the track where coordinate transformations are not being made is not required. The first is if the reconnaissance data is plotted in Easting-Northing (E-N) coordinates. they should cross at the origin. 48 Agreement between the algorithm used in this study and those from the code provided by Kepert is quite high. as well as the visual inspection of the fields prior to objective analysis.

but these smooth fields are required to determine gradient balance. whereas a geopotential field increases from the centre of the storm with a negative change in slope until the slope becomes zero far from the centre of the storm. decreases. Due to the resolution of the objectively analysed fields as well as the smoothing functions applied to create the fields. the velocity fields contain some level of turbulence that is being filtered out. This filtering results in an apparent increase in error between the objectively analyzed field and the raw data. There seem to be two contributing factors that lead to a higher level of error for the velocity fields. First. The second contributing factor is the shape of a tangential velocity profile versus that of a geopotential profile. sometimes sharply. as was mentioned above. the fluctuations of the reconnaissance data are not fully captured. The smoothing and removal of fluctuations from the data in the objective analysis in effect introduces error into the analysis. The fluctuations in the raw data are thought to be a combination of turbulence and measurement error. . A velocity profile increases sharply from the centre of the storm to a maximum and then. 49 is unlikely that a considerable amount of error was introduced during these processes but it is not possible to quantify this error The fourth area in which error is introduced is the objective analysis of the data. The error between the objectively analyzed fields and the raw data has an average value of 1% for the geopotential fields and 3% for the tangential velocity fields. so in order to produce accurate gradient balance calculations these fluctuations need to be filtered out.

This is because of the different nature of this study as compared to others. particularly when storms are weak and developing. An error envelope of plus or minus ten percent is used as the first criteria. using reconnaissance flight data exclusively at the 700 hPa pressure level excludes weak and developing storms from this analysis. that field is said to be in GB. This study is being conducted to determine if the assumption of local GB can be applied to engineering or predictive modelling. If less than 2/3 but more than 1/3 of the points are within the envelope. The bias introduced due to this selection is unavoidable. The 700 hPa pressure level is the uppermost pressure level used in reconnaissance flights. as the merits of exclusively using the 700 hPa pressure level exceeds this issue. the following error criteria have been used in this study. that field is said to be slightly out of GB. where the eventual model performance can be improved through parameterization. Finally. If a point is within said envelope it is in GB for the purpose of this study. 50 Selecting reconnaissance flight data at the 700 hPa pressure level as the exclusive data sources introduces a bias into this study.1.3 Current Study Considerations The allowable error for this study is set differently than previous studies. The two previous comprehensive studies (W1990 and G1991) focused on GB of azimuthally averaged fields whereas this study is looking at local. The size of this study is also unprecedented: 230 data fields from thirty storms over six storm seasons. if less than 1/3 of the . If at least 2/3 of the points for a given data field are within the envelope. Flights also take place at lower altitudes (and therefore higher pressure levels). Thus. With the above in mind. asymmetric GB. 4.

at certain times. if the characteristics of gradient balance change when azimuthal averaging is based upon the radius normalized by the radius to maximum wind . The first stage will test the contrasting claims of Willoughby and Gray for the current set of storms. There will be two stages of analysis. 51 points are within the envelope. the asymmetry of the storm. While this set of criteria are fairly loose. The characteristics that will be investigated are the intensity of the storm (in three ways. maximum tangential velocity and minimum geopotential). an attempt will be made to explain why. if azimuthally averaged storms tend to be in gradient balance  The claims of Gray (1991) will be tested. that field is said to be out of balance. it is sufficient for the purposes of this study. These characteristics were chosen because they can be determined from the data and objectively analyzed fields. The idea of a plus or minus ten percent error envelope comes from Willoughby (1979). storm size and forward storm speed. The order of analysis will be as follows:  The claims of Willoughby (1990) will be tested. using angular momentum. In the same vein. a given storm is in balance and at other times that same storm is out of balance. The second stage of analysis will look for correlations between storm characteristics and gradient balance in an attempt to explain why certain storms are in gradient balance and why others are not. meaning that no further data sources need to be introduced (which might have different error characteristics and may not exactly match the timeframe of analysis).

When results are being discussed. percentage of fields in and out of balance. Gray (1962. et cetera) o Correlations between error characteristics and storm features 4. the resulting fields are in gradient balance. Modelled velocities are those that are based upon the application of the GB equation on the objectively analyzed geopotential fields. Each objectively analyzed field has sixteen radial legs. 1991) found that when tangential velocities are azimuthally averaged. . is as follows. 52  The asymmetric representation of the velocity field will be analyzed according to: o Quadrant o General error characteristics (percentage of points in and out of balance. actual velocities refer to the tangential velocities from the objectively analyzed fields. with forty-one points in the radial direction.2 Comparisons to Previous Studies The azimuthal averaging technique. In order to calculate an azimuthal average. which means to average in the angular direction. these radial legs are averaged at each of the 41 points. Willoughby (1979. This results in a single profile with forty-one points in the radial direction. the resulting fields are out of balance on either side of the radius to maximum wind. 1990. 1991) found that when tangential velocities are azimuthally averaged using the radius normalized by the radius to maximum winds.

this theory is revisited. .1 . are modelled quite well. such as the one in Figure 4. are typically weak storms with low tangential velocities and as such are not expected to be properly modelled using this technique (W1979).2. azimuthally averaged tangential velocities tend to be in gradient balance. which is the same value reported in W1990.1 Azimuthally Averaged Wind Fields The work of Willoughby in the W1979 and W1990 studies showed that when radial velocities are low relative to tangential velocities.2 below. Figure 4. Some complicated wind fields.1 below. 18 August 2007 Fields that are modelled poorly. The results of W1979 and W1990 were largely reproduced by the current data set. such as the one in Figure 4. which is larger than those used in either W1979 or W1990.A comparison of azimuthally averaged actual and modeled velocities for Hurricane Dean. 53 4. The average error between the azimuthally averaged actual and modeled velocity is 2 percent. Using the current data set.

Figure 4. The red line through each of the blue boxes indicates the mean value of error at that . 54 Figure 4.3 is a box plot of the ratio between the tangential and GB velocities.3 . The red line through the rectangles indicates the mean value at that radius. Larger differences exist for low and high radial locations. 31 August 2006 Figure 4.2 .Ratio between actual tangential and modeled GB velocities for azimuthally averaged profiles.A comparison of azimuthally averaged actual and modeled velocities for Hurricane Ernesto.

. The complementary wind field to Figure 4. as with the conventional averaging. radial values are normalized by the RMW. when the actual and modeled velocities are azimuthally averaged by the radius normalized by the radius to maximum winds (RMW) rather than to the centre of the storm. The normalized radii are then rounded to the nearest 0. This means that profiles at different angular locations. averaging according to the normalized radius can reproduce complex wind fields. Plus and minus 25 percent of the error data is located within the blue boxes and 50 percent of the error data is located within the black dashed lines. This was disputed by Willoughby (1991) and is investigated below.125 and the fields are azimuthally averaged as before.2 Azimuthal Averaging – Normalized Radius According to G1991.2. G1991 found that changing the azimuthal averaging technique resulted in imbalances on either side of the RMW.1 above. 55 radius. As with the conventional averaging shown in Figure 4. using the normalized radius in place of radius. imbalances appear near the RMW. This quantity will be referred to as the normalized radius. Also.2 is given in Figure 4. normalized radius averaging has trouble reproducing wind fields for weak TCs. say 45° and 180°. In G1991. 4.4 below.1 is given in Figure 4. the normalized radius is calculated for each radial profile according to the local RMW value. The complementary wind field to Figure 4. Prior to the field being azimuthally averaged. can have different RMWs and thus different normalized radii.5 below.

18 August 2007 Figure 4. The field is from Hurricane Dean.A comparison of azimuthally averaged actual and modeled velocities. with averaging according to the normalized radius. 31 August 2006. which allows for different RMW at different azimuthal locations.4 .5 . Figures 4.A comparison of azimuthally averaged actual and modeled velocities. Due to the different azimuthal averaging scheme. 56 Figure 4.2 are slightly different .1 and 4. with averaging according to the normalized radius. The field is from Hurricane Ernesto.

the average error is only 2. However.3 but sorted by the normalized radius.6 below.4 percent. the amount of imbalance on either side of the RMW (where the normalized radius is unity) is very low.6 . As can be seen in Figure 4.As with Figure 4. 57 than Figures 4. the major finding that Gray associated with normalized radius averaging was that the modeled velocities underpredicted the actual velocities on the inner side of the RMW (normalized radius < 1) and overpredicted the actual velocities on the outer side of the RMW (normalized radius > 1). this does not seem to be the case. Indeed. . These differences were quite significant. Figure 4. When the current dataset is used. approximately 20 percent difference on the inner side and 10 percent difference on the outer side. which is very close to the 2 percent that was found for the conventional averaging.5.4 and 4.

Error plots for each of the quadrants are presented in Figure 4. 58 In W1990. rear left (RL) and rear right (RR) quadrants. The cardinal directions are considered. front left (FL).7 . 4. Willoughby cast doubt on the radar data source that Gray used in his analysis. As with all aspects of this analysis. these directions are relative to the forward direction of the storm centre. It is believed that the error present in the older radar data is higher than the tolerances that Gray was using. The general error characteristics are similar for each of the quadrants.10.Error plot for Front-Left quadrant . Figure 4.7 to Figure 4. the front right (FR).3 Error by Quadrant The first expansion from azimuthally averaged to axisymmetric GB is to consider GB by quadrant.

Error plot for Front-Right quadrant Figure 4.8 . 59 Figure 4.9 .Error plot for Rear-Left quadrant .

10 . such as updrafts and vortex Rossby waves. 4. from approximately 165 to 200 km. The level of error increases in two regions: the inner eyewall region. are not represented by local GB (W1990).4 Error Characteristics The assumption of local GB has been studied below. 60 Figure 4. This assumption of higher error was found to be true. . These regions are where the actual tangential velocity is low.Error plot for Rear-Right quadrant Each of the quadrants show a demarcation below unity until a radius of approximately 150 km. from approximately 0 to 25 km. This indicates that within the 0 to 150 km range. and the outer region. It is expected that this application will have higher error than azimuthal averaging because local phenomena. the actual velocity is higher than the modeled velocity. The difficulties in modeling likely stem from this.

The plot of error for local GB is not shown. whereas this study uses 200 km. typically six to twenty-four hours. 34 percent were found to have more than 2/3rds of their points within the ±10 percent envelope. The budget analysis does not include the ∂/∂t term as there was no means to calculate it. significant errors remain indicating that gradient balance is far from a universal assumption.3 above.2) are calculated. W1990. which is much higher than the two percent that was found for azimuthal averaging. 61 The average error was found to be 36 percent. Using the objectively analyzed fields. is too great to approximate the ∂/∂t . from 36 percent. Previous studies (W1979. 4. The first approach in examining why these differences exist is to revisit the assumptions that are applied to the Navier-Stokes equations to generate the gradient balance equation. the levels of error decrease dramatically.75 percent.5 Budget Analysis Although the number of fields in gradient balance increased as the domain size decreased from a radius of 200 to 100 kilometres. the terms in (2.2). The average error decreases to 5. from 34 percent. The number of fields with more than 2/3rds of their points within the ±10 percent envelope increases to 51 percent. G1991) have considered GB out to a radius of 100 km. Of the 230 data fields studied. When a radius of 100 km is used in the analysis. which for this study is considered to be in GB. This budget analysis is to test the assumption that the terms that form the gradient balance equation dominate (2. but is similar to those of the four quadrants shown in section 4. The time difference between data fields.

1) Figure 4.1). The contributions of the centrifugal (v2/r) and radial geopotential gradient (∂/∂r) forces are one to two orders of magnitude greater than those of the other terms.1) for Hurricane Dean. are for the front right quadrant only. The terms included in the budget analysis are given in (4.2): ∂u/∂t and 1/ρ τ. This was done because each quadrant displayed the same characteristics.11 to Figure 4. The centrifugal and radial geopotential gradient forces are .  (4.Budget analysis of (4.11 . 20 August 2007. from Figure 4. The plots of the budget analysis.14. the results of the budget analysis are evident from a single quadrant. The error term includes those terms that could not be calculated in (2. 62 term as it is the instantaneous time derivative. The budget analysis was carried out in each of the four quadrants of the storm. The relative contribution of the Coriolis force (fv) increases as radius increases. Although the values are slightly different.

Figure 4. This data field was in gradient balance. the differences between the radial geopotential gradient and the centrifugal force are more pronounced greater than in Figure 4. This is once again evident . a weaker instance of Hurricane Dean was analyzed from 16 August 2007 when it was a Category 1 storm. which shows the percentage contribution of each of the terms in (4. 20 August 2007. In order to investigate a wider variety of storms. This is evident when considering Figure 4. The budget analysis indicates that the assumptions applied to the Navier-Stokes equations hold for the investigated data set. In this weaker storm.11.Percentage contribution of the terms of (4.1) for Hurricane Dean. Hurricane Dean was a strong Category 4 storm.12 . At the time of analysis. and the relative contribution of the v/r ∂u/∂θ term is larger. with 75 percent of the points with the ±10 percent envelope. 63 approximately equal for radial values up to 125 km.1).12.

64

when the percentage contributions of each of the terms were considered in Figure

4.14.

Figure 4.13 - Budget analysis of (4.1) for Hurricane Dean, 16 August 2007.

Figure 4.14 - Percentage contribution of the terms of (4.1) for Hurricane Dean, 16
August 2007.

65

This analysis agrees with W1979 and W1990, who found that gradient balance

was only applicable for strong storms where the ratio between radial and

tangential velocities is very low. This storm was out of gradient balance, with 30

percent of the points within the ±10 percent envelope.

4.6 Strengthening, Weakening or Steady Storms and

∂v/∂t

Although the instantaneous time derivative cannot be calculated directly, an

estimation of its impact can be made. The sign of the ∂v/∂t term indicates

whether a storm is strengthening, weakening or steady, with strengthening,

weakening and steady storms associated with positive, negative and negligible

∂v/∂t values. These storm characteristics are obtained from the National

Hurricane Center‟s Tropical Cyclone Reports, which are completed for every

tropical cyclone in the North Atlantic and Eastern Pacific oceans.

Each of the 230 data sets are classified as strengthening, weakening or steady and

gradient balance is reassessed for each classification. If the percentage of storms

in gradient balance for a particular classification differs from the overall

percentage of storms in gradient balance, 51 percent, the assumption that the

∂/∂t term is negligible may be inappropriate.

The majority of the cases considered, 168 out of 230, were from strengthening

storms. Steady and weakening storms constituted 23 and 39 cases respectively.

The percentage of cases in and out of gradient balance is largely unchanged by

the added classifications; 49, 54 and 61 percent of the cases were in gradient

balance for strengthening, weakening and steady storms, respectively. Although

66

there is an increase in gradient balance for steady and weakening storms, this is

largely an artifact of the overrepresentation of strengthening storms.

4.7 Storm Characteristics

The analysis thus far has indicated that the simplifications applied to the Navier-

Stokes equations should stand, so long as the storm is sufficiently strong.

However, it is not clear if this is the only factor contributing to a presence (or

absence) of gradient balance. For this reason, certain storm parameters have

been chosen to classify the cases, with the hope that they will shed more light on

when gradient balance is, and is not, a good assumption

The insight into what makes GB a good or bad assumption comes from how its

presence or lack thereof is related to storm characteristics. The following

characteristics have been investigated:

 Angular momentum

 Maximum velocity

 Minimum geopotential

 Asymmetry

 Storm size

 Forward storm speed

4.7.1 Storm Strength

Angular momentum, maximum velocity and minimum geopotential are all

measures of the strength of a tropical cyclone. As such, they all show similar

correlations with gradient balance.

the minimum threshold for a TC to be classified a tropical storm. Each point represents a different data field. is calculated as (4.5 m/s. shows an increase in GB with an increase in storm strength. Angular momentum. as well as W1979 and W1990. It is a linear correlation that. which found that when azimuthally averaged. while highly scattered. . The only velocities used to calculate angular momentum in (4. GB was a better simplification for stronger storms.Correlation between Angular Momentum and the percentage of points within a ±10 percent envelope of GB.TS is the radius to tropical storm velocities.15 .5. Figure 4. M. This finding is supported by the budget analysis completed in section 4.2) are those that are above 17.2 ) where fo is the Coriolis parameter calculated at the centre of a TC and RV. 67 The correlation between storm strength and GB is quite high.

angular momentum shows the strongest correlation with GB.15. Figure 4. 68 Figure 4. The minimum geopotential and maximum tangential velocity are based upon their respective objectively analyzed fields.Correlation between Minimum Geopotential Height at 700 hPa and GB. The . as in Figure 4.17 . as in Figure 4.Correlation between Maximum Wind Speed and GB.16 . Of the three measures of storm strength.15.

For the purposes of this study.2 Asymmetry The correlation between asymmetry and GB is not linear.15.Correlation between maximum asymmetry and GB. 69 maximum velocity and especially the minimum geopotential height correlations show a higher level of scatter than the angular momentum correlation. Asymmetry is calculated as follows. the maximum wind speed amongst the radials can be different. Figure 4. as in Figure 4. and each radial has a maximum wind speed. 4. According to this metric. .7. As the objectively analyzed fields are asymmetric. a perfectly axisymmetric field would have an asymmetry value of unity. asymmetry is defined as being the ratio between the largest radial maximum wind speed and the smallest radial maximum wind speed. Each objectively analyzed field has sixteen radials.18 .

15. The results were similarly uncorrelated.4 Forward Storm Speed As with storm size. RV. In this case. as in Figure 4. The radius to tropical storm velocity.Correlation between maximum storm size and GB. 4.7. . 70 The correlation shown in Figure 4. 4.3 Storm Size There does not seem to be a correlation between storm size and GB. High levels of asymmetry are unlikely to lead to GB. Figure 4.18 indicates that relatively low values of asymmetry are required for GB. storm size was defined as the average radius to maximum wind. This is an expected result as storm speed has been removed from the velocity field prior to objective analysis. was also considered as a parameter for storm size. although low asymmetry values do not necessarily lead to GB. Horizontal storm speed refers to the speed that the centre of the storm is traveling at. as determined from the centre finding algorithm. the horizontal storm speed does not appear to be correlated with GB.TS.19 .7.

5 Correlation Analysis The Pearson correlation coefficients (R-values) for the eight data sets discussed above are given in Table 4. Cohen‟s criteria can be applied to r-values. 4. . 71 Figure 4. 0.20 . which states that an r-value of 0.5 indicates a large correlation (Salkind 2007). with ±1 meaning perfect linear correlation (with a positive slope for 1 and a negative slope for -1) and 0 meaning no correlation.7. The possible values range from -1 to 1.15 to Figure 4.1 according to the order they were presented.Correlation between horizontal storm speed and GB.3 indicates a moderate correlation and 0.21.1 indicates a small correlation.15. with angular momentum being largely correlated with GB and the subsequent datasets with more scatter and poorer correlations. as in Figure 4. The Pearson correlation coefficient indicates the amount of linear correlation between two data sets. This supports the visual evidence in Figure 4.

54 Maximum Velocity 0.4 and gradient balance.7. The focus of the following sections of analysis will switch to weak storms.1 . the correlations above can be used to guide this analysis so that meaningful results can be obtained and further insight into the conditions of a storm when it is in or out of GB can be had.21 Storm Size -0. it could be an old storm that has weakened due to changes in environment.1 to 4.09 Horizontal Storm Velocity 0. It is also helpful to examine the progression of a particular storm. This level of analysis transcends the simple scatter plots used to demonstrate correlation. and vice versa.02 4. It could be a new. Correlation R-Value Angular Momentum 0. 72 Table 4. what changes in storm characteristics occur when a storm goes from being in GB to being out of balance.8 Factors Affecting Gradient Balance Focusing on the data fields that are not in GB helps determine which characteristics are indicative of gradient imbalance. Rather. It is clear from the budget and the correlation analyses that strong storms favour GB.46 Minimum Geopotential -0. There are many conditions that could lead to a weak storm. such as an interaction with land.28 Asymmetry -0. or the conditions could have never been favourable for the storm to strengthen meaning that it could be an old . undeveloped storm that is small in size and has low wind speeds resulting in low angular momentum.R-Values between the data sets described in sections 4.7. including the causes of weak TCs. The preceding analysis provides a good starting point.

Of these three cases.1 18. Table 4.4 33. are responsible for forty-three fields that are out of GB.85 36. many examples exist among the thirty storms that have been investigated in this study.87 Helene 4 1.75 Cindy 3 1.1 15.72 13. 4. the fields analyzed in this study were prior to this development and were thus continuously weak over the analysis timeframe. 73 storm that remained relatively weak throughout its entire existence. 3. which are listed in Table 4. Although Hurricanes Alex.75 Arlene 6 1.1 Storm Strength The storms discussed in this section are weak and never in GB. 4 and 4.50 Stan 2 1.4 27. 4.25 .8. respectively).75 Omar 3 1.4 3.2. but later strengthen and go into GB.00 Charley 5 1. There are two types of storms that can be classified in this manner: storms that are weak and out of GB for the entire analysis timeframe and storms that are weak and out of GB initially.75 Ernesto 10 0. nine could be considered continuously weak. Lili and Omar would eventually develop into strong hurricanes (categories 3. Charley.2 25.Storm names and characteristics for the nine continuously weak storms investigated in this study Storm Number of Mean Angular Mean of Points within GB Name Fields Momentum (GN∙m∙s) Envelope (%) Alex 2 1. These nine storms.00 Lili 8 0. Of the thirty storms examined.2 . Helene.2 51.

00 Omar 15 October 2008 1.75 Stan 03 November 2005 1.25 Katrina 24 August 2005 1.1 2.50 Ernesto 24 August 2006 0.75 Gustav 26 August 2008 1.75 Emily 13 July 2005 1.95 18. This expands the number of fields that are out of GB because they are weak to 59 of the 152 fields that are out of GB (with less than 2/3rds of the points are within the ±10 percent envelope).0 0. sixteen were weak and out of GB initially.00 Lili 23 September 2002 1. Table 4.75 Isidore 20 September 2002 1.00 Cindy 4 July 2005 0.00 Dolly 20 July 2008 0.25 The average angular momentum among these storms is 0.50 Rita 18 September 2005 0.6 5. .4 3.3 27.0 8.74 8.94 GN∙m∙s and the average number of points within a ±10 percent envelope of GB is 17 percent.4 37.50 Fabian 29 August 2003 1.3 61.2 51.78 17.0 3.46 0.45 5.75 Helene 17 September 2006 1.00 Claudette 7 July 2003 1.Data fields for storms that were initially weak according to angular momentum and out of GB.50 Charley 12 August 2004 0. Revisiting the simplifications made in the derivation of the GB equations as well as understanding the changes in a TC as it goes from weak to strong yields insight into why this category tends to be imbalanced.3 0.75 Arlene 9 June 2005 0. Storm Date Angular Momentum Points within GB Name (GN∙m∙s) Envelope (%) Alex 3 August 2003 1.81 32. The remaining fourteen were already relatively strong storms during the initial data fields that were investigated.3 . 74 Of the thirty storms investigated.

The average ratio between radial and tangential velocities for these two instances is 0. 75 The work of Willoughby (1979) clearly demonstrated that the assumption of GB is poor when the ratio between (storm relative) radial and tangential velocities is high.21 below.Relationship between ε and angular momentum. Weaker storms tend to have larger values for ε. Figure 4. respectively.02. and angular momentum. . Two instances of Hurricane Rita have been considered.0 GN∙m∙s. This is evidenced in Figure 4. which gives the correlation between ε. When storms are weak. from 18 September 2005 when it was a newly classified tropical storm with an angular momentum of 0.1 and 0. in this case the ratio between average radial and tangential wind speed.74 GN∙m∙s and from 22 September 2005 when it was a category 5 hurricane with an angular momentum of 2. the ratio between radial and tangential velocity is low due to a decreased tangential wind speed.21 .

Storm features in b) are much more organized. Tropical Storm Fabian in a) developed into an intense category four hurricane in b). The other contributing factor to weak. axisymmetric within 100 km of the centre. Within the span of three days. a well defined eye and continuous cloud cover at radial values up to 300 km. new storms being out of GB is the structure of these storms at this point in their lifecycle. with discontinuous cloud cover and no defined eye. . General characteristics of weak TCs are that they tend to be unorganized and discontinuous.22 a) and b) . and where tangential velocities are much higher in some areas than others. 76 a) b) 100 km 100 km Figure 4. asymmetric.Difference in structure between a developing and a well developed TC. Storm features in a) are unorganized. These characteristics lead to areas where high asymmetries and very low velocities are present.

22 a) and b) are apparent in the corresponding objectively analyzed wind fields in Figure 4. 77 These discontinuities are obvious when contrasting satellite imagery of a TC in early development and one that is well developed.24. The features of Figure 4.22 a) is from 21 August 2005 at 14:45 UTC.22 a) and b) demonstrate the differences that exist in the structure of a TC at different stages of development. the eye of the storm is undefined and the extent of the cloud cover is relatively small.23 and Figure 4.22 a) are typical example of a developing TC: cloud cover is discontinuous. TCs at early stages of development tend to be highly unorganized as well as out of GB. Figure 4.22 b) are a typical example of a well developed TC: continuous cloud cover. . approximately twenty-four hours after Fabian was declared a tropical cyclone and less than twelve hours before Fabian was declared a hurricane.22 b) is from 2 September 2005 at 18:15 UTC. Figure 4. Relatively low velocities are present in the front right quadrant. Figure 4. The asymmetries and discontinuities in Figure 4. Figure 4. The features of Figure 4. nearly twenty- four hours since Fabian had been declared a category four hurricane and approximately twelve hours before Fabian was downgraded to a category three hurricane. Similar features are to those in Figure 4.22 a) and b) show Hurricane Fabian in two stages of development. and 75 and 35 km. with pockets of discontinuously low tangential velocities at easting and northing values of approximately 100 and 0 km. a well defined eye ten‟s of kilometres in diameter and the extent of cloud cover hundreds of kilometres in diameter.23.22 a) are reflected in Figure 4.

23 . Two large discontinuities exist.Tangential wind speeds for Fabian on 30 August 2003. tend to be continuous.Tangential wind speeds for Fabian on 3 September 2003. as in Figure 4. The arrow depicts the direction of the storm Figure 4.24 . centred at (E.22 b).35) km. corresponding to the satellite image in Figure 4. This type of continuity is not apparent .N) = (100. This wind field has no apparent discontinuities. corresponding to the satellite image in Figure 4.22 a). The arrow depicts the direction of the storm The wind fields of well developed TCs. with an increase in tangential velocity until the radius to maximum winds and a decrease in tangential velocity thereafter.0) and (75.24. 78 Figure 4.

These characteristics have been studied with regard to storm strength and GB. Typical reasons for weak storms include wind shear and interaction with land. The first factor was interaction with land. developing TCs. which was only briefly a category 1 hurricane for a six hour period on 27 August 2006.1 Characteristic Examples Two examples characteristic of many other storms are given below. southwestern .1 Hurricane Ernesto A characteristic example of a continuously weak storm is Hurricane Ernesto. 4.8.2. 4. 4. Hurricane Wilma is a stronger storm that goes out of GB after interacting with the Yucatán Peninsula. Ernesto was out of GB for each of the ten fields investigated in this study. At all other times Ernesto was a tropical storm or weaker. Ernesto‟s storm track brought the storm over the Lesser Antilles. but this was not realized due to two main factors. as in Figure 4.2 Large-Scale Environmental Conditions Understanding the causes of weak storms is paramount to understanding why weak storms are out of GB.8. Hurricane Ernesto is typical of a weak. constantly out of GB storm whose growth is retarded by land interaction and wind shear. 79 in weak.23 and Figure 4. where areas of uncharacteristically low (or high) velocities are present. The analysis in this section also investigates storms that had been in GB but then went out of balance. Ernesto had the capabilities of becoming a stronger storm.2.8.23.24 are very typical of other developing and developed tangential winds investigated in this study.1. The examples given in Figure 4.

Figure 4. it is believed that moderate wind shear coming from the west stunted Ernesto‟s development. keeping it a tropical storm (Knabb and Mainelli 2006). before dissipating over the eastern United States. This coincides with .25 .Track for Hurricane Ernesto indicating the location of data field centres and its interaction with landmasses. However. These interactions with land negated any strength that Ernesto built up while over water. As Ernesto exited Cuba and reemerged over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Shortly before Ernesto made landfall in Haiti. southeastern Florida and eastern North Carolina. When Ernesto exited Florida into the warm Atlantic Ocean. The second factor that influenced Ernesto was wind shear. it was expected that it would increase in strength. However. following the interaction with Haiti‟s mountainous terrain the strength of Ernesto was weakened to that of a tropical storm. with a surface wind speed drop from 36 m/s to 20. southeastern Cuba. eastern Ontario and Quebec.5 m/s. a lack of wind shear allowed Ernesto to gain strength (Knabb and Mainelli 2006). it was declared a category 1 hurricane. 80 Haiti.

However.2 Hurricane Wilma Hurricane Wilma provides a good example of the effects that land interaction has on GB. Figure 4. Ernesto‟s time over the Atlantic was brief. (2006) noted a large increase in wind shear as Wilma crossed the Yucatán Peninsula. On 22 October 2005. it took twelve hours for the percentage of points in GB to rise back to 70 percent. 4.1. Ernesto crossed over land for the final time as it made landfall in North Carolina. Wilma crossed the Yucatán Peninsula and GB dropped to 57.8. As Wilma intensified.26 . 81 an increase in GB from 18 to 30 percent. Wilma reorganized after exiting the Yucatán Peninsula and emerging in the Gulf of Mexico. Pasch et al.2. in agreement with the general trend between GB and storm strength.5 percent while angular momentum remained constant.Track for Hurricane Wilma indicating the location of data field centres and its interaction with landmasses. Less than twenty-four hours after exiting Florida. The final analyzed field was as Wilma was impinging on the southern Gulf coast of Florida on 24 October . the percentage of points in GB increased. Once back over water.

2. Vertical wind shear is the difference between the wind speeds at the 850 and 200 hPa pressure levels. which is the engine that drives the strengthening of the storm. Information on when a storm is subjected to high levels of wind shear is available in the National Hurricane Centre‟s Tropical Cyclone Reports and this data has been extracted for all 30 storms. A certain amount of wind shear is always present in a TC but high levels can cause weakening or retardation of storm strength by disrupting the internal structure of a storm. . or approximately 1. The first is the heat transfer from the warm ocean waters to the cool upper atmosphere. 4.5 and 12 km. two consequences of the environmental change tend to lead to a weakening (or a retardation of the development) of the storm.8.2. is greatly reduced. 82 2005. The second is that the change in roughness and terrain causes an increase in wind shear. When discussing tropical cyclones. wind shear typically refers to vertical wind shear. but only 30 percent of points were in GB. 4.8.3 Interaction with Land When a tropical cyclone interacts with land. Approximately 40 percent of the cloud cover of Wilma was over land and the angular momentum was at its highest.2 Wind Shear Wind shear refers to a wind velocity gradient in either the horizontal or vertical direction. Analyzed fields with an absence of wind shear are in gradient balance 65 percent of the time. whereas storms with strong wind shear are in gradient balance only 18 percent of the time.

No differentiation has been made between interactions with a continental or island landmass. Analysis of the maps has shown that forty-four of the fields from fourteen storms are out of GB after previously being in GB. a TC coming into contact with the Yucatán Peninsula is treated the same as one crossing the Lesser Antilles. transition or out of GB it is possible to determine when a storm goes from being in GB to out of GB. In order to investigate this parameter.27 were made for all thirty storms. the location of its data field centres and the landmasses close to the track. . By denoting at the centre locations whether a data field is in GB. twenty-five can be attributed to the TC interacting with a landmass.27 gives the track of Hurricane Frances. Figure 4.Track for Hurricane Frances indicating the location of data field centres and its interaction with landmasses. Therefore.27 . plots similar to that of Figure 4. interaction means that most or all of the TC is or recently has come into contact with a landmass. 83 Previous studies (K2006b) have pointed to TCs interacting with land as a reason for storms going out of GB. Figure 4. In this study. Of these.

Of the forty-four fields that went from being in GB to being out of balance.4.2. specifically increases. 11 displaying an increase in asymmetry only and 12 with an interaction with land. aside from storm strength. in asymmetry were found to coincide with a decrease in GB. twenty-four showed an increase in asymmetry when a field went from being in GB to out of GB. with fourteen of the fields sharing these traits. For this reason. in sections 4. Changes. This means that of the forty-four fields exhibiting a drop in GB. Some of the changes in asymmetry were coincident with an interaction with land. fourteen displayed an increase in asymmetry and an interaction with land.7.2 to 4. 84 Interaction between TCs and land explains some but not all of the cases where a TC drops out of GB. the investigation was expanded to the entire set of storm characteristics studied. This results in the number of cases that are explained by either land interaction or asymmetry to thirty- seven out of a possible forty-four.7. which is in line with the general trend discussed in 4.7. .

gradient. Gradient balance is a powerful modeling tool due to its ease of implementation and ability to relate pressure and tangential velocity. (2006).  Gradient balance reduces the Navier-Stokes equations down to a single. . Using reconnaissance flight data. three term equation. a systematic process was developed to ensure that storms across different seasons were treated in the same manner. To assume gradient balance means that the centrifugal and Coriolis forces from the tangential flow in a tropical cyclone are balanced by the radial pressure. cylindrical fields with a spacing of 22. The objective analysis of the data fields created discretized.  In order to assess gradient balance. and were rotated so that the forward direction of the storm centre pointed north. All fields were identical in spacing and size. These tracks were used to convert the reconnaissance flight data from earth relative to storm relative coordinates. the tangential velocity and geopotential data fields were objectively analyzed based upon a method by Mueller et al.Conclusions The current study investigated gradient balance in the upper level of tropical cyclones.5° in the azimuthal direction and 5 km in the radial direction up to a radius of 200 km. tracks of the centres of the set of storms were compiled using a centre finding algorithm by Kepert (2005). Upon coordinate transformation. 85 Chapter 5 . or geopotential.

Gray contended that when the radius is normalized by the radius to maximum winds.1 Contrasting the work of Willoughby and Gray The first stage of analysis attempted to revisit the contrasting studies of Willoughby (1979. Additionally. 1991) and Gray (1962. the fields were balanced. they are seen to be in gradient balance.  Both claims were evaluated and this study supported the claims of Willoughby. 1991). When azimuthally averaged according to Willoughby‟s method. the large increases in error on either side of the radius to maximum wind as found by Gray were not present. . the geopotential and tangential velocity fields are not in gradient balance. 86 5. and cast doubt on those of Gray.  When azimuthally averaged according to Gray‟s method. The error levels present when fields were azimuthally averaged were much lower than when gradient balance was considered locally.  The work of Willoughby indicated that when the geopotential and tangential velocity fields are azimuthally averaged. with error levels on par with those of Willoughby. This study indicates that Gray‟s suggestion of normalizing the radius by the radius to maximum winds when investigating gradient balance is unnecessary. This seems to support Willoughby‟s claims of a balanced primary circulation. with Shea 1973. some fields that were in gradient balance when azimuthally averaged were not in balance when local gradient balance was applied. 1990.

2. To contrast this with the work of Willoughby and Gray discussed in the previous section. is likely to be in perfect gradient balance. rear left and front left.  The first investigation into local gradient balance was by quadrant: front right. This is evident when considering azimuthally averaged. or more broadly.2 Local Gradient Balance The main focus of this study was to consider local gradient balance. the line between the front right and front left quadrants points in the direction of the forward velocity of the storm. it is clear that there are some instances where fields are better modeled than others. The error characteristics of each of the quadrants were similar and thus gradient balance is not biased based upon quadrant or location. When considering gradient balance it is more correct to consider the degree to which a field is in gradient balance. rather than look at it as a binary question of balance or no balance. When looking at gradient balance as a modeling tool.1 and 4. . as in Figures 4. The purpose of this investigation was to determine if any biases existed based upon the quadrant. rear right. and local gradient balance. The quadrant location is given relative to the direction of the storm. location in the tropical cyclone. no azimuthal averaging technique was utilitized. Gradient balance was assessed over the two dimensional fields which were obtained from the objective analysis. 87  This study agreed with Gray‟s contention that no storm. whether azimuthally averaged or considered locally. 5.

. No relationship with gradient balance was found for storm size. Of the 230 data sets analyzed. 117 (51 percent) were found to be in local gradient balance. Vertical wind shear and land interaction both disrupt the internal structure of the storm. maximum velocity or minimum geopotential. gradient balance is far from a universal assumption when applied locally.  Storm characteristics were investigated to determine if they had an effect on gradient balance. as measured by angular momentum. Clearly. The effects of large scale environmental conditions were also taken into account. The interaction of a storm with a landmass also played a role. with many storms having previously been in gradient balance going out of balance following land interaction. It was found that storm strength. was strongly correlated with storms being in gradient balance. Storms with low levels of asymmetry were also more likely to be in gradient balance. Vertical wind shear played a large role in determining whether a storm was in gradient balance. In this study. 88  Previous studies have used varying definitions of gradient balance. forward storm speed or the change in the strength of the storm. Storms with low wind shear were in gradient balance 65 percent of the time and storms with high wind shear were in gradient balance 18 percent of the time. causing an increase in secondary circulations and a decrease in the strength of the storm. within 100 km of the centre of the storm. local gradient balance was defined as when at least 2/3rds of the data points for the analyzed velocity were within ±10 percent of the actual velocity values.

The difficulty with the characteristics and conditions is that they are all closely associated: high levels of wind shear leads to a weaker storm and higher levels of asymmetry.  The geopotential field was able to accurately model even complex wind fields. its influence on the gradient balance equation is clearly much less than the centrifugal and radial geopotential gradient terms.11 to 4. 89 By understanding the storm characteristics and environmental conditions that are favourable to gradient balance. it is possible to determine when gradient balance is. higher levels of wind shear. While there is no reason to eliminate the term from the equation. as well as those terms that are neglected from the Navier Stokes equation. The additional terms from the Navier Stokes equation did not explain the observed differences between the centrifugal and radial geopotential gradient terms. and is not. the influence of the Coriolis force remains quite small compared to the two other terms of the gradient balance equation. which could increase its value by two to three times greater than in Figures 4.  When a budget analysis was conducted on the gradient balance equation. it was clear that the two dominant terms were the centrifugal and radial geopotential gradient forces. Even when calculated at more northern latitudes. higher levels of asymmetry and normally. land interaction leads to a weaker storm. One difficulty with parametric models such as the Holland pressure . One area of note was the relatively small contribution of the Coriolis force. The results indicate that storm strength and wind shear are the two dominant factors influencing whether a storm is in gradient balance.14. an appropriate assumption.

 This study was conducted in part to attempt to explore the possibility of using the two dimensional geopotential field in place of the Holland pressure profile.8) should be used to calculate the geopotential field based upon the . The asymmetric geopotential field could be directly substituted into any applications that use the Holland pressure profile by applying (2. 90 profile is the inability to model complex wind fields. This would overcome many of the limitations and deficiencies in the Holland pressure profile. Consideration of secondary circulations. gradient balance can be a very powerful modeling tool. might offer further insight into when and why storms are in or out of gradient balance. the gradient balance equation was able to model a wind field with a very broad profile and three peak values. As shown in Figure 4.1.3 Future Work  This study has focused on the primary circulation in tropical cyclones: the tangential velocity. which relates the radial pressure and geopotential gradients. flow in the radial and vertical directions. In order to ensure gradient balance. with knowledge the conditions that are indicative of local gradient balance.5). It would also be of interest to consider secondary circulations in terms of the predictive storm characteristics and environmental conditions. When applied appropriately. (2. 5. Local gradient balance should only be applied for strong storms that have low levels of wind shear and are far from landmasses. such as wind fields with multiple peak velocities.

The resulting modeled geopotential field could then be substituted for the Holland pressure profile. . 91 velocity field.

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Azimuthal Equidistant Projection . 94 Appendix A .

1 ) ( A. Symbols: Symbol Definition νO Origin Projection Constant Ν Projection Constant A Semi-major axis (6378206.4 ) ( A.2 ) ( A.3 ) ( A. The projection is used to convert the earth relative reconnaissance flight data to storm relative coordinates.5 ) .4 m) E Eccentricity (0.08227185) φO Latitude of Origin λO Longitude of Origin Φ Latitude of point Λ Longitude of point Ν Projection Constant Α Projection Constant Ψ Projection Constant S Projection Constant C Projection Constant G Projection Constant H Projection Constant E Easting distance from origin to point (m) N Northing distance from origin to point (m) Equations ( A. 95 The following series of equations gives the distances east and north between two sets of latitude/longitude coordinates.

96 ( A.11 ) .9 ) ( A.6 ) If sin(α) = 0: ( A.10 ) ( A.7 ) Where: If sin(α) ≠ 0: ( A.8 ) ( A.

97 Appendix B .Summary of Storms .

6 fields in GB. Weak storm with high levels of wind shear. 6 fields in GB. land interaction and Ernesto 2006 asymmetry. Weak storm with high level of land interaction during Cindy 2005 development. Nearly an extra-tropical Florence 2006 storm at time of analysis. 4 fields in GB. Very high levels of land Gustav 2008 interactions during development (Haiti. High Dean 2007 asymmetry. High levels of land Dolly 2008 interaction. Strong storm with only one field not in GB (although close at Frances 2004 65%). Strong storm with low levels of asymmetry and high levels of Ike 2008 land interaction. 4 of which are seemingly unaffected by land interaction. No fields in GB. Initially weak storm that strengthens. Strong storm with no land interaction. No fields Arlene 2005 in GB. No Charley 2004 fields in GB. initially weak storm. Moderately strong storm compact in size. All fields out of Claudette 2003 GB. 2 fields in GB. 12 fields in GB. All fields out of GB Helene 2006 Weak storm with no land interaction. Strong storm that goes through 2 strengthening and 2 Fabian 2003 weakening cycles. Fairly weak storm with no land interaction. High levels of Irene 2005 asymmetry for 2 fields. Weak storm with moderate levels of land interaction. . Jamaica and Cuba). Initially weak storm that strengthens. No fields in GB. Drops in GB correspond Isabel 2003 with wind shear and drops in Angular Momentum. 98 Storm Name Summary of Storm During Analysis Timeframe Weak extra-tropical storm with high levels of land interaction. Strong Storm with high levels of land interaction. No fields in GB. 4 fields in GB. Alex 2004 All fields out of GB. All fields are out of GB but 4 are about 50%. Moderate asymmetry Felix 2007 and land interaction. 3 fields in GB. Very high asymmetry. Early land interactions. 2 fields in GB. Strong storm with high levels of land interaction. Weak storm with no land interaction. 1 field in GB. High levels of land Emily 2005 interaction and 7 instances of high asymmetry. Moderate land interaction with the eastern Bahamas islands. Consistent Angular momentum values. Strong storm with high levels of land interaction before and Isidore 2002 during short analysis timeframe. Initially weak storm that strengthens. 3 more above 50%. Land Dennis 2005 interaction leads to weakening of storm and high asymmetry. Weak storm with high land interaction and high asymmetry.

Strong storm. All fields out of GB. Moderate storm with wind shear influence. . 11 fields in GB. 5 fields in GB. all fields above 50% and an Ivan 2004 average of 70%. 2 fields in GB. Strong storm with high levels of land interaction. Moderate land interaction with small islands (Lesser Antilles and Jamaica). Latter strong fields are in GB with little land interaction. Weak storm with high levels of land interaction. Land Wilma 2005 interaction is coincident with large increases in asymmetry. 99 Strong storm with high levels of GB. All fields out of Stan 2005 GB at a level of ~50% GB. Initially strong. then Ophelia 2005 weakens and then re-strengthens. 3 fields in GB. 3 fields in GB. Moderate to strong storm with consistent angular momentum Jeanne 2004 throughout analysis timeframe. Weak storm with some land interaction and wind shear Lili 2002 influence. 3 fields in GB. Weak storm with high asymmetry and moderate levels of land Omar 2008 interaction. Initially weak but eventually strong storm with moderate land Rita 2005 interaction. Moderately strong storm with high levels of land interaction and Noel 2007 asymmetry at times of analysis. progressively strengthening. High levels of land Katrina 2005 interaction during development (Bahamas and Florida).

Halifax. E. 2005 Publications: Gibbons.A. 2010: An Investigation into Gradient Balance of Flight-Level Tropical Cyclone Windfields.J. C. Nova Scotia Gibbons. Combustion Institute Canadian Section Spring 2005 Technical Meeting.J. American Meteorological Society 29th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology. Devaud and E. Nova Scotia ..S.Sc.P.M. with distinction The University of Western Ontario London. Miller.Sc. Ontario.M. Shaw. Canada 2008-2010 M. Arizona Gibbons.. Honours and Western Engineering Graduate Entrance Scholarship Awards: 2008 NSERC Industrial Undergraduate Student Research Award 2007 Related Work Teaching Assistant Experience The University of Western Ontario 2009-2010 Research Assistant The University of Western Ontario 2008-2010 Research Assistant The University of Waterloo 2002-2003.P. 2005: Behaviour of Pool Fires in a Crosswind: Comparison of Experimental and Computational Results. Canada Degrees: 2003-2008 Hon. and C. Weckman. D.. M. 2005: Use of Video Analysis in Large-Scale Fire Testing. Halifax.P. 100 Curriculum Vitae Name: Michael Gibbons Post-secondary University of Waterloo Education and Waterloo. B. Weckman. Randsalu. Ontario. Combustion Institute Canadian Section Spring 2005 Technical Meeting. C.M. Lam and E.E. M. Tucson. M.