Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Meteorology and Physical Oceanography (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Shuyi S. Chen

Second Committee Member

Sharanya Majumdar

Third Committee Member

Tomislava Vukicevic

Fourth Committee Member

Xiang-Yu Huang


Accurate prediction of Tropical Cyclones (TC) is vital for the protection of life and property in areas that are prone to their destructive forces. While significant improvements have been made in forecasting TC track, intensity remains a challenge. It is hypothesized that accurate TC intensity forecast requires, among other things, an adequate initial description of their inner-core region. Therefore, there must be reliable observations of the inner-core area of the TC and effective data assimilation (DA) methods to ingest these data into the Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models. However, these requirements are seldom met at the relatively low resolution of operational global prediction models and the lack of routine observations assimilated in the TC inner-core. This study tests the impacts of assimilating inner-core Airborne Doppler Radar (ADR) winds on the initial structure and subsequent intensity forecast of Hurricane Ike (2008). The 4-dimensional variational (4DVar) and the 3-dimensional variational (3DVar) methods are used to perform DA while the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model is used to perform forecasts. It is found that assimilating data helps to initialize a more realistic inner-core structure using both DA methods. Additionally, the resulting short-term and long-term intensity forecasts are more accurate when data is assimilated versus cases when there is no DA. Additionally, it is found that in some cases the impact of DA lasts up to 12 hours longer with 4DVar versus 3DVar. It is shown that this is because the flow-dependent 4DVar method produces more dynamically and balanced analysis increments compared to the static and isotropic increments of 3DVar. However, the impact of using both methods is minimal in the long-range. The analyses show that at longer forecast range the dynamics of hurricane Ike was influenced more by outer environment features than the inner-core winds.


Hurricane Intensity forecasts; Inner-core initialization; Data Assimilation; 4DVar; 3DVar