Structural Evolution Through the Lifecycle of Hurricane Sandy (2012)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Hurricane Sandy (2012) wrought devastating impacts on tens of millions of U.S. citizens. Protection of the lives and property of residents along the path of such a system is imperative; this requires understanding the physics underlying the system and being equipped to act on that knowledge. Development of physical understanding of the evolution of Sandy provides the knowledge to underpin future forecasts of similar systems and appropriate societal responses to those events. Analysis of the sensitivity of the observed Sandy lifecycle to the characteristics of the various contributing systems and environmental factors helps to constrain and refine this understanding. Methodologies employed here will be cluster analysis of the ensemble forecasts and related sensitivity simulations.

Intellectual Merit:

This research centers on a detailed analysis of the evolution of Hurricane Sandy (2012) through its lifecycle and landfall, and on exploiting ensemble forecasts to explore the realistic range of alternative lifecycles that could have eventuated. It is hypothesized that Hurricane Sandy underwent a warm seclusion near landfall, resulting in an atypical distribution of significant weather over the US northeast. The relative roles of Hurricane Sandy, the blocking high and upstream trough, the remnant Tropical Storm Tony, as well as surface fluxes and friction will be examined and the ensemble diagnostics and sensitivity simulations will be conducted. Point clustering will be used to evaluate the model skill in simulating the structural evolution of Sandy. Path clustering provides sub-groups from the ensembles whose evolution is similar over the entire forecast period. Analyses of alternative storm evolutions within objectively-derived subgroups of the ensemble members provide insight into the relative importance of different storm and environment characteristics. These can be further tested through sensitivity studies using the Weather and Research Forecasting (WRF) model.

Broader Impacts:

Elucidating the processes leading to the evolution of Sandy will have broad impacts in the theoretical understanding of these systems, in forecasting sphere, and in societal resilience planning.

The professional development of students at all levels will have broader impacts. The PI's role as co-chair of the WMO IWTC-VIII will have broader impacts through enhanced international forecaster/researcher communications, improving community understanding of tropical cyclones.

Effective start/end date7/1/1312/31/17


  • National Science Foundation: $506,469.00


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