The Effect of Spaceborne Microwave and Ground-Based Continuous Lightning Measurements on Forecasts of the 1998 Groundhog Day Storm

Dong-Eon Chang Universities Space Research Association, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

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James A. Weinman Microwave Sensors Branch, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

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Carlos A. Morales CNPq, Brasilia, Brazil, and Department of Civil Engineering, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut

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William S. Olson Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland

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Abstract

This study seeks to evaluate the impact of several newly available sources of meteorological data on mesoscale model forecasts of the extratropical cyclone that struck Florida on 2 February 1998. Intermittent measurements of precipitation and integrated water vapor (IWV) distributions were obtained from Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI) observations. The TMI also provided sea surface temperatures (SSTs) with structural detail of the Loop Current and Gulf Stream. Continuous lightning distributions were measured with a network of very low frequency radio receivers. Lightning data were tuned with intermittent spaceborne microwave radiometer data through a probability matching technique to continuously estimate convective rainfall rates.

A series of experiments were undertaken to evaluate the effect of those data on mesoscale model forecasts produced after assimilating processed rainfall and IWV for 6 h. Assimilating processed rainfall, IWV, and SSTs from TMI measurements in the model yielded improved forecasts of precipitation distributions and vertical motion fields. Assimilating those data also produced an improved 9-h forecast of the radar reflectivity cross section that was validated with a coincident observation from the TRMM spaceborne precipitation radar.

Sensitivity experiments showed that processed rainfall information had greater impact on the rainfall forecast than IWV and SST information. Assimilating latent heating in the correct location of the forecast model was found to be more important than an accurate determination of the rainfall intensity.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Dong-Eon Chang, Code 975, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771. Email: dechang@synth.gsfc.nasa.gov

Abstract

This study seeks to evaluate the impact of several newly available sources of meteorological data on mesoscale model forecasts of the extratropical cyclone that struck Florida on 2 February 1998. Intermittent measurements of precipitation and integrated water vapor (IWV) distributions were obtained from Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI) observations. The TMI also provided sea surface temperatures (SSTs) with structural detail of the Loop Current and Gulf Stream. Continuous lightning distributions were measured with a network of very low frequency radio receivers. Lightning data were tuned with intermittent spaceborne microwave radiometer data through a probability matching technique to continuously estimate convective rainfall rates.

A series of experiments were undertaken to evaluate the effect of those data on mesoscale model forecasts produced after assimilating processed rainfall and IWV for 6 h. Assimilating processed rainfall, IWV, and SSTs from TMI measurements in the model yielded improved forecasts of precipitation distributions and vertical motion fields. Assimilating those data also produced an improved 9-h forecast of the radar reflectivity cross section that was validated with a coincident observation from the TRMM spaceborne precipitation radar.

Sensitivity experiments showed that processed rainfall information had greater impact on the rainfall forecast than IWV and SST information. Assimilating latent heating in the correct location of the forecast model was found to be more important than an accurate determination of the rainfall intensity.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Dong-Eon Chang, Code 975, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771. Email: dechang@synth.gsfc.nasa.gov

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