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Derivation of physically motivated wind speed scales

Atmospheric Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosres.2008.10.015
  • Wind Speed Scale
  • E-Scale
  • Fujita Scale
  • Ef-Scale
  • Calibration
  • Earth Science


Abstract A class of new wind speed scales is proposed in which the relevant scaling factors are derived from physical quantities like mass flux density, energy density (pressure), or energy flux density. Hence, they are called Energy- or E-scales, and can be applied to wind speeds of any intensity. It is shown that the Mach scale is a special case of an E-scale. Aside from its foundation in physical quantities which allow for a calibration of the scales, the E-scale concept can help to overcome the present plethora of scales for winds in the range from gale to hurricane intensity. A procedure to convert existing data based on the Fujita-scale or other scales (Saffir-Simpson, TORRO, Beaufort) to their corresponding E-scales is outlined. Even for the large US tornado record, the workload of conversion in case of an adoption of the E-scale would in principle remain manageable (if the necessary metadata to do so were available), as primarily the F5 events would have to be re-rated. Compared to damage scales like the “Enhanced Fujita” or EF-scale concept recently implemented in the USA, the E-scales are based on first principles. They can consistently be applied all over the world for the purpose of climatological homogeneity. To account for international variations in building characteristics, one should not adapt wind speed scale thresholds to certain national building characteristics. Instead, one worldwide applicable wind speed scale based on physical principles should rather be complemented by nationally-adapted damage descriptions. The E-scale concept can provide the basis for such a standardised wind speed scale.

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