A Numerical Modelling Study of Tropical Cyclone Sidr (2007): Sensitivity Experiments Using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
The tropical cyclone is a majestic, yet violent atmospheric weather system occurring over tropical waters. Their majesty evolves from the significant range of spatial scales they operate over: from the mesoscale, to the larger synoptic-scale. Their associated violent winds and seas, however, are often the cause of damage and destruction for settlements in their path.
Between 10/11/07 and 16/11/07, tropical cyclone Sidr formed and intensified into a category 5 hurricane over the southeast tropical waters of the northern Indian Ocean. Sidr tracked west, then north, during the course of its life, and eventually made landfall on 15/11/07, as a category 4 cyclone near the settlement of Barguna, Bangladesh. The storm affected approximately 2.7 million people in Bangladesh, and of that number 4234 were killed.
In this study, the dynamics of tropical cyclone Sidr are simulated using version 2.2.1 of Advanced Weather Research and Forecasting — a non-hydrostatic, two-way interactive, triply-nested-grid mesoscale model. Three experiments were developed examining model sensitivity to ocean-atmosphere interaction; initialisation time; and choice of convective parameterisation scheme. All experiments were verified against analysed synoptic data. The ocean-atmosphere experiment involved one simulation of a cold sea surface temperature, fixed at 10 °C; and simulated using a 15 km grid resolution. The initialisation experiment involved three simulations of different model start time: 108-, 72-, and 48-hours before landfall respectively. These were simulated using a 15 km grid resolution. The convective experiment consisted of four simulations, with three of these using a different implicit convective scheme. The three schemes used were, the Kain-Fritsch, Betts-Miller-Janjic, and Grell-Devenyi ensemble. The fourth case simulated convection explicitly. A nested domain of 5km grid spacing was used in the convective experiment, for high resolution modelling. In all experiments, the Eta-Ferrier microphysics scheme, and the Mellor-Yamada-Janjic planetary boundary layer scheme were used.
As verified against available observations, the model showed considerable sensitivity in each of the experiments. The model was found to be well suited for combining ocean-atmosphere interactions: a cool sea surface caused cyclone Sidr to dissipate within 24 hours. The initialisation simulations indicated moderate model sensitivity to initialisation time: variations were found for both cyclone track and intensity. Of the three simulations, an initialisation time 108 hours prior to landfall, was found to most accurately represent cyclone Sidr’s track and intensity. Finally, the convective simulations showed that considerable differences were found in cyclone track, intensity, and structure, when using different convective schemes. The Kain-Fritsch scheme produced the most accurate cyclone track and structure, but the rainfall rate was spurious on the sub-grid-scale. The Betts-Miller-Janjic scheme resolved realistic rainfall on both domains, but cyclone intensity was poor. Of particular significance, was that explicit convection produced a similar result to the Grell-Devenyi ensemble for both model domain resolutions.
Overall, the results suggest that the modelled cyclone is highly sensitive to changes in initial conditions. In particular, in the context of other studies, it appears that the combination of convective scheme, microphysics scheme, and boundary layer scheme, are most significant for accurate track and intensity prediction.