The Effect of Regional Climate Model Domain Choice on the Simulation of Tropical Cyclone–Like Vortices in the Southwestern Indian Ocean

Landman, Willem A.; Camargo, Suzana J.; Seth, Anji

A regional climate model is tested for several domain configurations over the southwestern Indian Ocean to examine the ability of the model to reproduce observed cyclones and their landfalling tracks. The interaction between large-scale and local terrain forcing of tropical storms approaching and transiting the island landmass of Madagascar makes the southwestern Indian Ocean a unique and interesting study area. In addition, tropical cyclones across the southern Indian Ocean are likely to be significantly affected by the large-scale zonal flow. Therefore, the effects of model domain size and the positioning of its lateral boundaries on the simulation of tropical cyclone–like vortices and their tracks on a seasonal time scale are investigated. Four tropical cyclones, which occurred over the southwestern Indian Ocean in January of the years 1995–97, are studied, and four domains are tested. The regional climate model is driven by atmospheric lateral boundary conditions that are derived from large-scale meteorological analyses. The use of analyzed boundary forcing enables comparison with observed cyclones in these tests. Simulations are performed using a 60-km horizontal resolution and for an extended time integration of about 6 weeks. Results show that the positioning of the eastern boundary of the regional model domain is of major importance in the life cycle of simulated tropical cyclone–like vortices: a vortex entering through the eastern boundary of the regional model is generally well simulated. The size of the domain also has a bearing on the ability of the regional model to simulate vortices in the Mozambique Channel, and the island landmass of Madagascar additionally influences storm tracks. These results show that the regional model can produce cyclonelike vortices and their tracks (with some deficiencies) given analyzed lateral boundary forcing. Statistical analyses of GCM-driven nested model ensemble integrations are now required to further address predictive skill of cyclones in the southwestern Indian Ocean and to test if the model can realistically simulate tropical storm genesis as opposed to advecting existing tropical disturbances entering through the model boundaries.

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Also Published In

Journal of Climate

More About This Work

Academic Units
International Research Institute for Climate and Society
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
American Meteorological Society
Published Here
June 6, 2015