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Impact of Data Assimilation on Forecasting Convection over the United Kingdom Using a High-Resolution Version of the Met Office Unified Model

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  • 1 Met Office Joint Centre for Mesoscale Meteorology, Reading, United Kingdom
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Abstract

A high-resolution data assimilation system has been implemented and tested within a 4-km grid length version of the Met Office Unified Model (UM). A variational analysis scheme is used to correct larger scales using conventional observation types. The system uses two nudging procedures to assimilate high-resolution information: radar-derived surface precipitation rates are assimilated via latent heat nudging (LHN), while cloud nudging (CN) is used to assimilate moisture fields derived from satellite, radar, and surface observations. The data assimilation scheme was tested on five convection-dominated case studies from the Convective Storm Initiation Project (CSIP). Model skill was assessed statistically using radar-derived surface-precipitation hourly accumulations via a scale-dependent verification scheme. Data assimilation is shown to have a dramatic impact on skill during both the assimilation and subsequent forecast periods on nowcasting time scales. The resulting forecasts are also shown to be much more skillful than those produced using either a 12-km grid length version of the UM with data assimilation in place, or a 4-km grid-length UM version run using a 12-km state as initial conditions. The individual contribution to overall skill attributable to each data-assimilation component is investigated. Up until T + 3 h, LHN has the greatest impact on skill. For later times, VAR, LHN, and CN contribute equally to the skill in predicting the spatial distribution of the heaviest rainfall; while VAR alone accounts for the skill in depicting distributions corresponding to lower accumulation thresholds. The 4-km forecasts tend to overpredict both the intensity and areal coverage of storms. While it is likely that the intensity bias is partially attributable to model error, both VAR and LHN clearly contribute to the overestimation of the areal extent. Future developments that may mitigate this problem are suggested.

Corresponding author address: Mark Dixon, Met Office Joint Centre for Mesoscale Meteorology, Reading, Berkshire RG6 6BB, United Kingdom. Email: mark.dixon@metoffice.gov.uk

Abstract

A high-resolution data assimilation system has been implemented and tested within a 4-km grid length version of the Met Office Unified Model (UM). A variational analysis scheme is used to correct larger scales using conventional observation types. The system uses two nudging procedures to assimilate high-resolution information: radar-derived surface precipitation rates are assimilated via latent heat nudging (LHN), while cloud nudging (CN) is used to assimilate moisture fields derived from satellite, radar, and surface observations. The data assimilation scheme was tested on five convection-dominated case studies from the Convective Storm Initiation Project (CSIP). Model skill was assessed statistically using radar-derived surface-precipitation hourly accumulations via a scale-dependent verification scheme. Data assimilation is shown to have a dramatic impact on skill during both the assimilation and subsequent forecast periods on nowcasting time scales. The resulting forecasts are also shown to be much more skillful than those produced using either a 12-km grid length version of the UM with data assimilation in place, or a 4-km grid-length UM version run using a 12-km state as initial conditions. The individual contribution to overall skill attributable to each data-assimilation component is investigated. Up until T + 3 h, LHN has the greatest impact on skill. For later times, VAR, LHN, and CN contribute equally to the skill in predicting the spatial distribution of the heaviest rainfall; while VAR alone accounts for the skill in depicting distributions corresponding to lower accumulation thresholds. The 4-km forecasts tend to overpredict both the intensity and areal coverage of storms. While it is likely that the intensity bias is partially attributable to model error, both VAR and LHN clearly contribute to the overestimation of the areal extent. Future developments that may mitigate this problem are suggested.

Corresponding author address: Mark Dixon, Met Office Joint Centre for Mesoscale Meteorology, Reading, Berkshire RG6 6BB, United Kingdom. Email: mark.dixon@metoffice.gov.uk

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