ISSN 2070-7401 (Print), ISSN 2411-0280 (Online)
Sovremennye problemy distantsionnogo zondirovaniya Zemli iz kosmosa


Sovremennye problemy distantsionnogo zondirovaniya Zemli iz kosmosa, 2022, Vol. 19, No. 5, pp. 287-299

Analysis of extreme winds in intense extratropical cyclones over the North Pacific based on satellite observations from SMAP

M.K. Pichugin 1 , I.A. Gurvich 1 , A.V. Baranyuk 1 
1 V.I. Il'ichev Pacific Oceanological Institute FEB RAS, Vladivostok, Russia
Accepted: 27.09.2022
DOI: 10.21046/2070-7401-2022-19-5-287-299
During the cold season, extratropical cyclones (ECs) are often associated with severe weather events, especially strong winds, extreme ocean waves and heavy precipitations. At the same time, the study of long-term changes in cyclone characteristics is hampered by gaps in observational instruments and uncertainties in cyclonic activity estimates based on both forecast models and reanalysis data sets. In this paper, the wind conditions in intense extratropical cyclones over the North Pacific Ocean are studied based on measurements from the SMAP satellite and the European Center for Medium-Range Forecasts ERA5 reanalysis and the US National Center for Environmental Prediction CFSv2 operational analysis data sets. The microwave radiometer on the SMAP satellite allows us to retreve the near the sea surface with speed up to 70 m/s, including in areas of heavy precipitation due to lutterly weak scattering and attenuation of electromagnetic waves by individual hydrometeors. The study period is limited by the satellite launch time and is 6 cold seasons (November-March) from 2015 to 2021. As a result, 105 cases of extratropical cyclones with hurricane-force (>33 m/s) winds falling within the radiometer swath were identified. Most of them (about 60 %) were recorded in December and January south of the Aleutian Islands and the Kamchatka Peninsula. Some cases of cyclogenesis (more than 40 %) demonstrated an “explosive” character and were observed mainly in the Kuroshio-Oyashio Extension area. In the most intense cases, satellite estimates of the wind showed maximum values up to 55–60 m/s. An analysis of the distribution of the maximum wind speed in the ECs exhibited a group of the most intense cyclones (about 14 %) with a specific mechanism for the formation of an extreme winds. We hypothesize that these ECs followed the Shapiro – Keyser (SK) conceptual model with the formation of a meso-scale slantwise airstream, also called a “sting jet”. A comparative analysis of the wind distribution in the cyclone according to SMAP and reanalyses data showed a significant underestimation by the latter in the region of high speeds of more than 25 m/s. The ERA5 reanalysis showed the most discrepancies with the satellite winds, regardless of the month or geographical area.
Keywords: satellite microwave measurements, extratropical cyclones, North Pacific, extreme winds, SMAP, sting jet
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