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Application of Adjoint-Derived Forecast Sensitivities to the 24–25 January 2000 U.S. East Coast Snowstorm

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  • 1 Science Applications International Corporation, and National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Camp Springs, Maryland
  • | 2 Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
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Abstract

The 24–25 January 2000 eastern United States snowstorm was noteworthy as operational numerical weather prediction (NWP) guidance was poor for lead times as short as 36 h. Despite improvements in the forecast of the surface cyclone position and intensity at 1200 UTC 25 January 2000 with decreasing lead time, NWP guidance placed the westward extent of the midtropospheric, frontogenetically forced precipitation shield too far to the east.

To assess the influence of initial condition uncertainties on the forecast of this event, an adjoint model is used to evaluate forecast sensitivities for 36- and 48-h forecasts valid at 1200 UTC 25 January 2000 using as response functions the energy-weighted forecast error, lower-tropospheric circulation about a box surrounding the surface cyclone, 750-hPa frontogenesis, and vertical motion. The sensitivities with respect to the initial conditions for these response functions are in general very similar: geographically isolated, maximized in the middle and lower troposphere, and possessing an upshear vertical tilt. The sensitivities are maximized in a region of enhanced low-level baroclinicity in the vicinity of the surface cyclone’s precursor upper trough. However, differences in the phase and structure of the gradients for the four response functions are evident, which suggests that perturbations could be constructed to alter one response function but not necessarily the others.

Gradients of the forecast error response function with respect to the initial conditions are used in an iterative procedure to construct initial condition perturbations that reduce the forecast error. These initial condition perturbations were small in terms of both spatial scale and magnitude. Those initial condition perturbations that were confined primarily to the midtroposphere grew rapidly into much larger amplitude upper-and-lower tropospheric perturbations. The perturbed forecasts were not only characterized by reduced final time forecast error, but also had a synoptic evolution that more closely followed analyses and observations.

Corresponding author address: Daryl T. Kleist, W/NP2, NOAA, WWB #207, 5200 Auth Rd., Camp Springs, MD 20746-4304. Email: daryl.kleist@noaa.gov

Abstract

The 24–25 January 2000 eastern United States snowstorm was noteworthy as operational numerical weather prediction (NWP) guidance was poor for lead times as short as 36 h. Despite improvements in the forecast of the surface cyclone position and intensity at 1200 UTC 25 January 2000 with decreasing lead time, NWP guidance placed the westward extent of the midtropospheric, frontogenetically forced precipitation shield too far to the east.

To assess the influence of initial condition uncertainties on the forecast of this event, an adjoint model is used to evaluate forecast sensitivities for 36- and 48-h forecasts valid at 1200 UTC 25 January 2000 using as response functions the energy-weighted forecast error, lower-tropospheric circulation about a box surrounding the surface cyclone, 750-hPa frontogenesis, and vertical motion. The sensitivities with respect to the initial conditions for these response functions are in general very similar: geographically isolated, maximized in the middle and lower troposphere, and possessing an upshear vertical tilt. The sensitivities are maximized in a region of enhanced low-level baroclinicity in the vicinity of the surface cyclone’s precursor upper trough. However, differences in the phase and structure of the gradients for the four response functions are evident, which suggests that perturbations could be constructed to alter one response function but not necessarily the others.

Gradients of the forecast error response function with respect to the initial conditions are used in an iterative procedure to construct initial condition perturbations that reduce the forecast error. These initial condition perturbations were small in terms of both spatial scale and magnitude. Those initial condition perturbations that were confined primarily to the midtroposphere grew rapidly into much larger amplitude upper-and-lower tropospheric perturbations. The perturbed forecasts were not only characterized by reduced final time forecast error, but also had a synoptic evolution that more closely followed analyses and observations.

Corresponding author address: Daryl T. Kleist, W/NP2, NOAA, WWB #207, 5200 Auth Rd., Camp Springs, MD 20746-4304. Email: daryl.kleist@noaa.gov

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