Feasibility of using cloud top altimetry for estimating tropical cyclone intensity estimation
Author(s)Wong, Valerie (Valerie Wan Chi)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
Kerry A. Emanuel.
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This project explores whether cloud top altimetry can be used as an accurate and reliable means of estimating the intensity of tropical cyclones. Professor Kerry A. Emanuel developed the theory that is under investigation. His theory aims to calculate the peak surface wind speed in hurricanes using only three parameters, all of which can be collected from satellite imagery: cloud top height, sea surface temperature and cloud top temperature. Cloud top heights for selected hurricanes were obtained from the ICESat, and points were identified where the ICESat may have traversed the hurricanes. These points were compared with IR images to confirm the intersection of the ICESat track and the hurricane tracks. Out of 18 hurricanes examined, four provided feasible points to test this new technique. Two of these points were from hurricanes that were at the end stage of their life cycle; these two data points were discarded. Data from the two usable data points were compared to the recorded wind speeds from Unisys. It seems that the new method is overestimating the maximum surface wind speed by less than 10%. Two data points are insufficient for conclusively validating this technique. However, this project has established a viable method for gathering and analyzing altimetry data, providing a basis for further testing of the theory.
Thesis: S.B., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, 2006.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis. Some pages in the original thesis contain text that runs off the edge of the page.Includes bibliographical references (pages 36-37).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.