Cutting Edge > Topics > Hurricanes-Climate Change Connection > Workshop 08 > Discussions > Questions for Tom Knutson

« Workshop Discussion Threads

Questions for Tom Knutson  

Please post your questions and comments for Tom Knutson's presentation here.

973:2833

Share edittextuser=24 post_id=2833 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=973

Hi Tom, Great talk. I tried ot ask questions during the talk but they didn't seem to get to you. Anyway...
My main issue has to do with the higher intensity hurricanes and whether you have any idea what causes your model, even at the highest resolution, to underestimate those Cat 4 and 5 hurricanes which seem like those that could increase in a warmer world based on limited observations (e.g., Webster et al and also ELsner et al.). It looks like your more recent results improved a little with the cat 4 hurricanes. What gave this improvement (resolution?) and what direction are you looking into to improve your results further?

973:2852

Share edittextuser=595 post_id=2852 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=973

Thanks for your great presentation, Tom! Quick question based upon the 'threshold temperature' concept introduced in slide 27, I believe:

Why is it that the threshold temperature rises with an overall change in SST? Is it the *contrast* in SST of the tropics vis-a-vis mid-latitudes which is important to hurricane formation? In other words, as the mid-latitude SST increases, the tropic SST has to get that much warmer? Or is it not quite that simple?

973:2853

Share edittextuser=444 post_id=2853 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=973

Hi Catherine. I lost my Yugma connection about half way
through, but I was too busy in the early part with my talk to notice the online questions...Anyway, hopefully I can address everyone's questions here.

Hurricane intensities as simulated by models will depend on both model resolution and some details of the physics in the models. Our 18-km grid regional climate model tops out at around 47 m/s, but we can improve on this a lot by doubling the resolution and tinkering with the surface flux parameterization (e.g., evaporation and momentum fluxes).

The GFDL hurricane prediction model (9 km grid resolution) simulates cat 3's and 4's fairly well in terms of climatological number but is a bit deficient on cat 5's. It's also used operationally for hurricane prediction, so we get to learn more about its biases based on operational experience. This work with the GFDL hurricane model that I showed has not yet been published. We were keen to move to a model that could simulate cat 4-5 storms as we saw a tendency for a different response to climate warming at the high end vs the run-of-the-mill tropical storm or hurricane.

Further improvements will involve illustrating how dependent some of our downscaling results are on the particular climate model we choose for the downscaling. That is a measure of uncertainty about the whole problem, and one that the whole climate change community will have to help in solving.

973:2854

Share edittextuser=2129 post_id=2854 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=973

Robert,
My guess is that the threshold temperature is determined based on the sea surface temperature in the tropical locations relative to the rest of the tropics. Whether the tropical vs extratropical contrast could also affect things is an interesting question that we haven't really looked into. We think that the tropics is special in that you cannot have large contrasts of temperature in the upper troposphere, even though you can have such contrasts at the surface. So the place where tropical storms will be most active will be where the surface is warmest, because that will have the greatest contrast exists (in the vertical) between the surface and the (relatively uniform) upper tropospheric temperature.

973:2856

Share edittextuser=2129 post_id=2856 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=973

Re: threshold temperature. I learned that SST never gets above 28-30degC, for various thermodynamic reasons having to do with wind speed, evaporation, etc... true? If so, is there some kind of asymptotic relationship between SST (or difference in SST between E & W equatorial regions?) and "threshold temperature" for hurricane formation?

973:2885

Share edittextuser=2126 post_id=2885 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=973

Re: threshold temperature. I'm no expert on this, but according to http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0001375.html the highest recorded SST was 36deg C (96F) in the Persian Gulf (Aug. 5, 1924). Certainly we obtain large scale SSTs well in excess of 30 deg C in climate change projections from climate models. For example, see Fig. 1 of this paper for a look at SSTs from a 4xCO2 experiment. [http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/reference/bibliography/1995/tk9501.pdf]. Note the large area of SST in the Western Pacific Warm Pool simulated at over 33 deg C under 4xCO2 conditions. There is no apparent "thermostat" operating here...only slightly less warming occurs in the warm pool than in the eastern tropical Pacific for the reasons we discuss in that paper.

973:2889

Share edittextuser=2129 post_id=2889 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=973

OK, so not 30degC, but maybe never above 36degC? Isn't there still something keeping the water from getting any warmer than that? When actual temperature gets close to that max value, do you think the threshold temperature for hurricane formation would reach a max as well?

973:2919

Share edittextuser=2126 post_id=2919 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=973

Join the Discussion


Log in to reply

« Workshop Discussion Threads

« Questions for Jenni Evans       Teaching uncertainty to intronon-science majors »