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Tropical cyclone wind field forcing for surge models: critical issues and sensitivities


Several wind fields developed for Hurricane Katrina (2005) in the US Gulf of Mexico (GOM) are applied with the ADCIRC hydrodynamic model to explore the sensitivity of predictions of coastal surges to wind fields developed by alternative methods. The alternative model predictions are evaluated against water level measurements provided by gages at two coastal locations. It is found that all the post-event analyzed wind fields yield a range of predictions of only ±10% of the available peak surge measurements regardless of whether the wind fields are produced by dynamical boundary layer models, kinematic analysis methods or a blend. However, the richness of meteorological forcing data in the GOM is not typically matched in other basins affected by tropical cyclones and errors may be much larger where storm intensity and size parameters are estimated mainly from satellite data. The attributes and remaining critical deficiencies of current methods for surface wind specification in both data-rich and data-poor environments are reviewed.

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This study is carried out under the US Army Corps of Engineers MORPHOS project, supported in part at OWI through a contract with Woolpert, Inc. and the US Army Engineer District (Philadelphia) Award W912BU-07-P-0232.

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Correspondence to V. J. Cardone.

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Cardone, V.J., Cox, A.T. Tropical cyclone wind field forcing for surge models: critical issues and sensitivities. Nat Hazards 51, 29–47 (2009).

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  • Tropical cyclone
  • Surge
  • Marine winds
  • Wind forcing