Volume 96B (2018) Pages 3-26
The high temporal and spatial resolutions of geostationary satellite observations achieved by recent technological advancements have facilitated the derivation of atmospheric motion vectors (AMVs), even in a tropical cyclone (TC) wherein the winds abruptly change. This study used TCs in the western North Pacific basin to investigate the ability of upper tropospheric AMVs to estimate the TC intensity and structure. We first examined the relationships between the cloud-top wind fields captured by 6-hourly upper tropospheric AMVs derived from images of the Multi-functional Transport Satellite (MTSAT) and the surface maximum sustained wind (MSW) of the Japan Meteorological Agency's best-track data for 44 TCs during 2011-2014. The correlation between the maximum tangential winds of the upper tropospheric AMVs (UMaxWinds) and MSWs was high, approximately 0.73, suggesting that the cyclonic circulation near the cloud top was intensified by the upward transport of absolute angular momentum within the TC inner core. The upper tropospheric AMVs also revealed that the mean radii of UMaxWinds and the maximum radial outflows shifted inward as the TC intensification rate became large, implying that the low-level inflow was strong for TCs undergoing rapid intensification. We further examined the possibility of estimating the MSW using 30-min-interval UMaxWinds derived from Himawari-8 target observations, which have been used to track TCs throughout their lifetimes. A case study considering Typhoon Lionrock (1610) showed that the UMaxWinds captured the changes in the cyclonic circulation near the cloud top within the inner core on a timescale shorter than 1 day. It was apparent that the increase in the UMaxWind was associated with the intensification of the TC warm core and the shrinkage of UMaxWind radius. These results suggest that Himawari-8 AMVs include useful information about TC intensification and related structural changes to support the TC intensity analysis and structure monitoring.