Quantifying Interagency Differences in Tropical Cyclone Best-Track Wind Speed Estimates

Knapp, Kenneth R.; Kruk, Michael C.
April 2010
Monthly Weather Review;Apr2010, Vol. 138 Issue 4, p1459
Academic Journal
Numerous agencies around the world perform postseason analysis of tropical cyclone position and intensity, a process described as “best tracking.” However, this process is temporally and spatially inhomogeneous because data availability, operational techniques, and knowledge have changed over time and differ among agencies. The net result is that positions and intensities often vary for any given storm for different agencies. In light of these differences, it is imperative to analyze and document the interagency differences in tropical cyclone intensities. To that end, maximum sustained winds from different agencies were compared using data from the International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship (IBTrACS) global tropical cyclone dataset. Comparisons were made for a recent 5-yr period to investigate the current differences, where linear systematic differences were evident. Time series of the comparisons also showed temporal changes in the systematic differences, which suggest changes in operational procedures. Initial attempts were made to normalize maximum sustained winds by correcting for known changes in operational procedures. The result was mixed, in that the adjustments removed some but not all of the systematic differences. This suggests that more details on operational procedures are needed and that a complete reanalysis of tropical cyclone intensities should be performed.


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