General exam revisited
Friday Sept 8 at 8:00 a.m.
That's when I will go before my ph.d. committee and defend my general exam prospectus. For those who are curious, here is the final paragraph of the introductory chapter. The entire prospectus is roughly 100 pages, or about the same length as my masters thesis (which is now bound and resting quietly on a shelf in the OU Bizzell Library).
In this prospectus, I present an organized plan of research to answer the following question: “can tropical cyclones be accurately forecasted?” Three primary methods to answer this question are proposed. First, I will develop and employ a climatological tool that quickly and succinctly displays the spread of historical TC tracks for any point in the Atlantic Ocean basin. This tool will be useful in all parts of the basin because it is derived from prior storm motion trajectories and summarily captures information about the historical synoptic and mesoscale steering patterns. This tool will display the strength of the climatological signal and allow for rapid qualitative comparison between the historical tracks and the more robust NWP models. Second, I will use a high-resolution mesoscale model to investigate the ability to predict TC intensity change and mesoscale structure, and secondarily, TC track. This will be accomplished by coding into the model’s planetary boundary layer (PBL) equations a new drag coefficient parameterization derived from very recent (1997-2003) observations made in the TC boundary layer. The primary energy source (sink) of a TC is the air-sea exchange of enthalpy (momentum), and the drag coefficient is critical in the mesoscale model’s determination of this exchange. By adding a new, observationally-based parameterization for the drag coefficient, TC intensity forecasts should respond positively. This hypothesis will be tested using a series of model sensitivity studies. Third, I will use a high-resolution mesoscale model to examine the interaction between the TC circulation and the island topography of the southern Windward Islands. Previous numerical studies of terrain impact have focused on Taiwan; the Greater Antilles of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and Cuba; and the Philippines; but the Windward Islands of the eastern Caribbean have been largely neglected. By varying the terrain representation in the mesoscale model, the interaction between the TC circulation and these islands will be examined for the first time at high horizontal resolution (< 3 km). Collectively, these three investigations will provide answers to the main question of this dissertation, “can tropical cyclones be accurately forecasted?”