Effects of moist convection on hurricane predictability

Fuqing Zhang, Jason A. Sippel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


This study exemplifies inherent uncertainties in deterministic prediction of hurricane formation and intensity. Such uncertainties could ultimately limit the predictability of hurricanes at all time scales. In particular, this study highlights the predictability limit due to the effects on moist convection of initial-condition errors with amplitudes far smaller than those of any observation or analysis system. Not only can small and arguably unobservable differences in the initial conditions result in different routes to tropical cyclogenesis, but they can also determine whether or not a tropical disturbance will significantly develop. The details of how the initial vortex is built can depend on chaotic interactions of mesoscale features, such as cold pools from moist convection, whose timing and placement may significantly vary with minute initial differences. Inherent uncertainties in hurricane forecasts illustrate the need for developing advanced ensemble prediction systems to provide event-dependent probabilistic forecasts and risk assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1944-1961
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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