Terms of Reference

The tropical atmosphere plays a vital role in the earth system. It interacts with the ocean and landmasses to undergo variabilities that have widespread effects extending to high latitudes in both hemispheres. Tropical oscillations on time scales of months to decades involve an interaction of motion scales from that of convective clouds up to large wind systems. Tropical cloud clusters are a major source of global water resources. Particularly in equatorial regions, these cloud systems are primary energy converters in the global heat and energy budgets; their effects and "parameterization" are receiving increasing attention in large-scale circulation and climate models, and in observational field programs. About 80 oceanic tropical cloud systems annually develop strong circulations that intensify into tropical cyclones with winds of gale or hurricane force (greater than 33 m s-1). Upon landfall, these storms can produce severe flooding, accompanied by major destruction of life and property. While realistic computer simulation of these systems is well advanced, forecasting their tracks and understanding and prediction of their development and intensification remain major challenges.

The committee serves as an authority on tropical meteorology and tropical cyclones for the Society and is the communication channel for the Society with the national and international organizations for tropical meteorological and related activities. The general functions of the committee are to stimulate research activities in problems of the tropical atmosphere and its relationships to other parts of the atmosphere-ocean-earth system represented by other committees, to encourage the exchange of ideas and information, and to promote the application of acquired knowledge to operational problems related to the Tropics.

Toward these ends, specific tasks are to

  1. sponsor national and international scientific and technical conferences and coordinate special sessions on topics in tropical meteorology at other meetings of the Society (e.g., the Committees on Climate Variations, Cloud Physics, Radar Meteorology, Interaction of the Sea and Atmosphere, and others); 
  2. inform the Society on major tropical meteorological activities and aid in transmitting such information to the Society membership;
  3. encourage the effective use of weather forecasts and climatological data in tropical regions for planning and operational problems: any major prediction problems in the Tropics shall be identified and the Society shall be informed of their existence;
  4. encourage public education and preparation of comprehensive disaster-preparedness plans for areas susceptible to tropical cyclone occurrences;
  5. assist the Council in preparing official policy statements of the Society concerning tropical meteorology and tropical cyclone; and
  6. nominate distinguished individuals to become Fellows and to receive awards of the Society including the Banner I. Miller Award.