Wednesday, 17 January 2007: 9:00 AM
Observed integrated moisture fields within tropical storm systems
210B (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
Hurricanes, or more generally tropical cyclones, are commonly described as heat engines, using energy from warm ocean surfaces to create intense atmospheric circulations and winds. The transfer of this energy occurs primarily through the evaporation of water into the atmosphere. Observationally, there are relatively few instruments that can accurately measure water vapor in the presence of clouds and rain. Retrievals of precipitable water vapor (PW) using Global Positioning System (GPS) stations may be the most reliable way to continuously monitor column integrated water vapor. We use the SuomiNet network of GPS stations to investigate the variability of PW when Atlantic basin tropical storm systems make landfall. Wind speeds and minimum surface pressure data from more than 20 storm systems are analyzed to identify differences in storm intensity as a function of atmospheric moisture. A strong linear correlation (> 0.7) is found linking total atmospheric moisture to storm intensity. These findings suggest that an expansion of GPS stations into the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico may improve the forecasting of future storms, particularly storm intensity.