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The GFDL hurricane modeling system, initiated in the 1970s, has progressed from a research tool to an operational system over four decades. This system is still in use today in research and operations, and its evolution will be briefly described. This study used an idealized version of the 2014 GFDL model to test its sensitivity across a wide range of three environmental factors that are often identified as key factors in tropical cyclone (TC) evolution: SST, atmospheric stability (upper-air thermal anomalies), and vertical wind shear (westerly through easterly). A wide range of minimum central pressure intensities resulted (905–980 hPa). The results confirm that a scenario (e.g., global warming) in which the upper troposphere warms relative to the surface will have less TC intensification than one with a uniform warming with height. The TC rainfall is also investigated for the SST–stability parameter space. Rainfall increases for combinations of SST increase and increasing stability similar to global warming scenarios, consistent with climate change TC downscaling studies with the GFDL model. The forecast system’s sensitivity to vertical shear was also investigated. The idealized model simulations showed weak disturbances dissipating under strong easterly and westerly shear of 10 m s−1. A small bias for greater intensity under easterly sheared versus westerly sheared environments was found at lower values of SST. The impact of vertical shear on intensity was different when a strong vortex was used in the simulations. In this case, none of the initial disturbances weakened, and most intensified to some extent.