About EODG
RG Grainger
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Research Programme
Satellite Instruments
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Observing the Origins of Tropical Cyclones


Scientific Motivation

Tropical cyclones are potentially devastating weather systems for which accurate early warning is critical. However, their origins and behaviour often depend on rather small scale atmospheric structures which are not well-resolved in global numerical weather prediction models.

The aim of this project is to explore if key features signalling the genesis, or sudden intensification, of tropical cyclones can be observed in infrared spectra from a 12km footprint measured by the IASI instrument on the MetOp satellites. Such features include warm Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs), high levels of mid-tropospheric humidity (fuel) and cloud top temperatures.

The work would combine the IASI expertise in AOPP with the forecast modelling and data assimilation at ECMWF.


The conclusions from this project will be relevant for improving the use of data from current satellite instruments in operational tropical cyclone prediction. In addition this study will help pave the way for the successful exploitation of future satellite instruments. The next generation geostationary Meteosat sounders (2023 onwards) will observe the genesis of Atlantic tropical cyclones with high temporal resolution (up to every 15 minutes) and IASI-NG instruments (2021 onwards) will provide enhanced information about the vertical structure of these storms.

Relevant Skills

Computing, atmospheric radiative transfer and thermodynamics.

Typhoon Usagi, NE of the Philippines, observed by the MetOp 2 satellite as it passed overhead, north-to-south. The map shows an area approx 2000km square. The black/white image is from a visible channel on the the AVHRR instrument, the coloured circles represent the IASI sounding locations, the colour indicating the approximate radiative temperature in the 960.7 µm atmospheric window channel.

Background Documents

Earth Observation Data Group, Department of Physics, University of Oxford. Page last updated: @08:25 GMT 10-Aug-2018