Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics

, Volume 117, Issue 1–2, pp 5–23 | Cite as

Surface pressure profiles, vortex structure and initialization for hurricane prediction. Part I: analysis of observed and synthetic structures

  • Yimin MaEmail author
  • Menas Kafatos
  • Noel E. DavidsonEmail author
Original Paper


Without detailed reconnaissance, consistent representation of hurricane-like vortices in initial conditions for operational prediction and research simulations still remains elusive. It is thus often necessary, particularly for high-resolution intensity forecasting, to use synthetic tropical cyclone circulations to initialize forecast models. Variants on three commonly used surface pressure profiles are evaluated for possible use. Enhancements to the original profiles are proposed that allows definition of both the inner-core and outer circulation. The latter improvement creates a vortex more consistent with the estimated outer structure which sometimes appears to be crucial to the evolving intensity of the storm. It also allows smoother merging of the synthetic vortex with the environment. Comparisons of the profiles against (a) structure estimates, (b) each other, (c) structures obtained via conservation of angular momentum, and (d) observed vorticity structures, suggest that a new enhanced Fujita profile best represents real TC structures. Student-t tests indicate that improved fitting to the observations is statistically significant.


Vorticity Tropical Cyclone Vortex Structure Central Pressure Wind Profile 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Absolute angular momentum


Amended Chan and Williams (1987) surface pressure profile


Carr and Elsberry (1997) surface pressure profile


Tropical cyclone central pressure


Enhanced Fujita (1952) surface pressure profile


Enhanced Holland (1980) surface pressure profile


Extended best track data set ebtrk_1988-2005 (Pennington et al. 2000)


Fujita (1952) surface pressure profile


Holland (1980) surface pressure profile


Numerical weather prediction


Radius of maximum wind


Radius of 34-knot wind


Radius of 50-knot wind


Radius of 64-knot wind


Radius of the outer closed isobar


Pressure of the outer closed isobar


Surface level pressure


Tropical cyclone


The F52 profile applied in TC-LAPS


The H80 profile applied in TC-LAPS


Australian Tropical Cyclone Limited Area Prediction System


Vortex specification


Maximum wind


34-knot wind


50-knot wind


64-knot wind


Parameter used in H80 and EH profiles


Parameter used in H80 and EH profiles


Parameter used in TCH profile


Radius-dependent parameter used in EH profile


Parameter for TCF profile


Absolute angular momentum (AAM) at radius where the symmetric tangential wind of the TC is zero


Absolute angular momentum (AAM)


Normalised pressure


Parameter for CE97 profile


Parameter for ACW profile


Coriolis parameter


Coriolis parameter at the TC centre


Pressure at radius r


Central pressure (CP)


Environmental pressure




Measure of hurricane core size used in TCF profile or a radius in CE97 profile where the symmetric tangential wind of the TC is zero


Radius of cyclostrophic maximum wind


Radius of maximum wind (RMW)


Radius of maximum pressure gradient


Radius parameter used in TCF profile at which the radial pressure gradient is zero


Radial scale used in CE97 profile


Radius of the outer closed isobar (ROCI)


Tangential wind speed


Cyclostrophic wind


Cyclostrophic maximum wind


Gradient wind


Maximum wind (VMAX)


Parameter used in EH profile


Parameter used in EF profile


Vertical vorticity


Relative vorticity component of vertical vorticity


Parameter used in EF profile


Parameter used in EH profile


Air density



The study was partially supported by the Virginia Access project, USA. We are deeply grateful to Dr Mark DeMaria and his Team for developing the valuable best track data set used in this study and for making it freely available. Thanks are also extended to our CAWCR colleagues, Drs. J. Kepert, P. Steinle and H. Zhu for valuable comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. The authors also thank Dr. John Knaff for his thoughtful comments which greatly improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Computational SciencesGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, CAWCR, A partnership between CSIRO and the Bureau of MeteorologyMelbourneAustralia

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