Tropical Cyclone Reconnaissance Over the Western North Pacific with the Global Hawk Operational Requirements, Benefits, and Feasibility
Atkinson, Robert E., III
Harr, Patrick A.
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Over the North Atlantic Ocean, an operational manned aircraft-based tropical cyclone (TC) reconnaissance program is conducted by the United States Air Force. However, no such program is conducted over the western North Pacific (WPAC), where the maximum annual number of TCs occurs. Rather, remotely-sensed observations from satellites provide data on TC characteristics. While operational forecasts of TC track over the WPAC have improved, the rate of improvement has declined, and no such decline has been observed over the North Atlantic. In this study, the declining rate of improvement in WPAC forecast accuracy is examined relative to the lack of direct observations. The capabilities of manned-aircraft are compared with use of a Global Hawk unmanned aerial system for use as an observing platform. This is proposed in view of a declining capability in satellite data coverage. Current Global Hawk programs are reviewed with respect to requirements for operational tropical cyclone reconnaissance over the western North Pacific. A multi-year demonstration project is proposed to obtain in situ observations of TC location and intensity. The observation impacts on improved tropical cyclone forecasts will be assessed such that a positive impact will lead to recommendation of a Global Hawk for operational tropical cyclone reconnaissance.
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