Visualization of the 3-Dimensional Structure of Clouds and Water Vapor in the Hurricane Environment

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Sunday, 2 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Genevieve M. Burgess, CIMSS/Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI; and R. O. Knuteson, P. Menzel, H. E. Revercomb, Y. Plokhenko, and W. L. Smith Sr.

Hurricanes are important because they make up a large portion of the planet's weather systems. Not only can they cover a vast area due to their enormous size, but also they can become extremely dangerous in a short amount of time. These factors combined make hurricanes some of the most dynamic storm systems on the planet. The hurricane environment is most favorable to intensification when warm sea surface temperatures combine with large amounts of low-level water vapor leading to cyclonic convective cloud formations. The unique cloud formations are characterized by an eyewall containing convective towers with long spiral rainband arms extending from the eyewall. In between the eye wall and the rain bands of the hurricane there is a noticeable moisture gradient that differentiates each rain band. Warm, moist air from near the surface is drawn upward into the eyewall where it cools and descends between the rainband arms.

Recent developments in satellite remote sensing include the Hyperspectral Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) aboard the Aqua satellite that measures upwelling Earth-emitted infrared spectra using more than 2300 IR channels between 3.7 and 15.4 microns. UW CIMSS has developed a retrieval package for satellite derived water vapor products. The CSPP Dual Regression algorithm generates 3-Dimensional water vapor fields from the AIRS IR channels. Likewise, the UW CIMSS cloud amount vertical profile (CAVP) consists of a 3-D volume of cloud amount within the AIRS granule (135 x 90 x 54). SSEC/CIMSS McIDAS-V is software developed by SSEC/CIMSS to be able to visualize and analyze satellite data in 2-D and 3-D.

Case studies are presented from the Pacific Typhoon Ioke in 2006, Atlantic hurricanes Nadine and Sandy in 2012, and an example from the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season. Using the McIDAS-V software we will illustrate the synergistic relationship between water vapor fluxes and convective cloud formations in 3-Dimensional animations. With this new data and visualization we are able to compare the storms to older data from all sorts of procedures. We also are now able to see into the storm and see the inner workings of a hurricane while characterizing the environmental conditions which control the storm development.