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A climatology of infrared-based tropical cyclone wind radii, integrated kinetic energy, and damage potential

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Monday, 24 January 2011
A climatology of infrared-based tropical cyclone wind radii, integrated kinetic energy, and damage potential
Washington State Convention Center
Paula Ann Hennon, STG, Inc., Asheville, NC; and K. R. Knapp
Manuscript (122.7 kB)

The destructive potential of a tropical cyclone and the storm intensity as typically measured by maximum wind speed or minimum central pressure are not necessarily well correlated. Currently described by the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, the intensity of a tropical cyclone can also be quantified in terms of the area-integrated kinetic energy of the wind field. Both the customary measures of storm intensity and the structure of the wind field affect kinetic energy. As such, integrated kinetic energy captures the physical processes most relevant to a tropical cyclone's damage potential, namely the spatial effects of the wind and the shear stress of the wind on the ocean surface, driving storm surge and wave destruction. Other studies have explored the relationships between tropical cyclone size and storm intensity and have even proposed damage scales based on integrated kinetic energy. All of these studies have been conducted within the data-rich Atlantic and East Pacific basins. This research uses the global historical tropical cyclone storm tracks from the International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship (IBTrACS), the 8-km resolution, storm-centered, IR satellite imagery from the Hurricane Satellite (HURSAT) data set, and the IR-based hurricane wind structure from CIMMS at the University of Wisconsin to garner the necessary information about storm attributes and conditions necessary to estimate the area-integrated kinetic energy of land-falling tropical cyclones in other ocean basins. In building this climatology, any adjustments necessary to quantify the wind radii relationship with integrated kinetic energy in these observation-sparse basins are assessed and any biases are examined. This satellite-based examination of the storm-scale energy in the wind field aims to advance the characterization and understanding of the potential scope of wind damage, waves, and storm surge inflicted by landfalling tropical cyclones worldwide.