Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Meteorology and Physical Oceanography (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Sharanya J. Majumdar

Second Committee Member

David S. Nolan

Third Committee Member

Brian E. Mapes

Fourth Committee Member

Christopher S. Velden

Fifth Committee Member

Tomislava Vukicevic


This dissertation research explores the influence of assimilating satellite-derived observations on mesoscale numerical analyses and forecasts of tropical cyclones (TC). The ultimate goal is to provide more accurate mesoscale analyses of TC and its surrounding environment for superior TC track and intensity forecasts. High spatial and temporal resolution satellite-derived observations are prepared for two TC cases, Typhoon Sinlaku and Hurricane Ike (both 2008). The Advanced Research version of the Weather and Research Forecasting Model (ARW-WRF) is employed and data is assimilated using the Ensemble Adjustment Kalman Filter (EAKF) implemented in the Data Assimilation Research Testbed. In the first part of this research, the influence of assimilating enhanced atmospheric motion vectors (AMVs) derived from geostationary satellites is examined by comparing three parallel WRF/EnKF experiments. The control experiment assimilates the same AMV dataset assimilated in NCEP operational analysis along with conventional observations from radiosondes, aircraft, and advisory TC position data. During Sinlaku and Ike, the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) generates hourly AMVs along with Rapid-Scan (RS) AMVs when the satellite RS mode is activated. With an order of magnitude more AMV data assimilated, the assimilation of hourly CIMSS AMV dataset exhibit superior initial TC position, intensity and structure estimates to the control analyses and the subsequent short-range forecasts. When RS AMVs are processed and assimilated, the addition of RS AMVs offers additional modification to the TC and its environment and leads to Sinlaku’s recurvature toward Japan, albeit prematurely. The results demonstrate the promise of assimilating enhanced AMV data into regional TC models. The second part of this research continues the work in the first part and further explores the influence of assimilating enhanced AMV datasets by conducting parallel data-denial WRF/EnKF experiments that assimilate AMVs subsetted horizontally by their distances to the TC center (interior and exterior) and vertically by their assigned heights (upper, middle, and lower layers). For both Sinlaku and Ike, it is found: 1) interior AMVs are important for accurate TC intensity, 2) excluding upper-layer AMVs generally results in larger track errors and ensemble spread, 3) exclusion of interior AMVs has the largest impact on the forecast of TC size than exclusively removing AMVs in particular tropospheric layers, 4) the largest ensemble spreads are found in track, intensity, and size forecasts when interior and upper-layer AMVs are not included, 5) withholding the middle-layer AMVs can improve the track forecasts. Findings from this study could influence future scenarios that involve the targeted acquisition and assimilation of high-density AMV observations in TC events. The last part of the research focuses on the assimilation of hyperspectral temperature and moisture soundings and microwave based vertically-integrated total precipitable water (TPW) products derived from polar-orbiting satellites. A comparison is made between the assimilation of soundings retrieved from the combined use of Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer and Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AMSU-AIRS) and sounding products provided by CIMSS (CIMSS-AIRS). AMSU-AIRS soundings provide broad spatial coverage albeit coarse resolution, whilst CIMSS-AIRS is geared towards mesoscale applications and thus provide higher spatial resolution but restricted coverage due to the use of radiance in clear sky. The assimilation of bias-corrected CIMSS-AIRS soundings provides slightly more accurate TC structure than the control case. The assimilation of AMSU-AIRS improves the track forecasts but produces weaker and smaller storm. Preliminary results of assimilating TPW product derived from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-EOS indicate improved TC structure over the control case. However, the short-range forecasts exhibit the largest TC track errors. In all, this study demonstrates the influence of assimilating high-resolution satellite data on mesoscale analyses and forecasts of TC track and structure. The results suggest the inclusion and assimilation of observations with high temporal resolution, broad spatial coverage, and greater proximity to TCs does indeed improve TC track and structure forecasts. Such findings are beneficial for future decisions on data collecting and retrievals that are essential for TC forecasts.


Tropical Cyclone, Satellite, Data Assimilation