Sensitivity of Global Ensemble Forecasts to the Initial Ensemble Mean and Perturbations: Comparison of EnKF, Singular Vector, and 4D-Var Approaches

Mark Buehner Meteorological Research Division, Environment Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada

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Ahmed Mahidjiba Meteorological Research Division, Environment Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada

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Abstract

This study examines the sensitivity of global ensemble forecasts to the use of different approaches for specifying both the initial ensemble mean and perturbations. The current operational ensemble prediction system of the Meteorological Service of Canada uses the ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) to define both the ensemble mean and perturbations. To evaluate the impact of different approaches for obtaining the initial ensemble perturbations, the operational EnKF approach is compared with using either no initial perturbations or perturbations obtained using singular vectors (SVs). The SVs are computed using the (dry) total-energy norm with a 48-h optimization time interval. Random linear combinations of 60 SVs are computed for each of three regions. Next, the impact of replacing the initial ensemble mean, currently the EnKF ensemble mean analysis, with the higher-resolution operational four-dimensional variational data assimilation (4D-Var) analysis is evaluated. For this comparison, perturbations are provided by the EnKF. All experiments are performed over two-month periods during both the boreal summer and winter using a system very similar to the global ensemble prediction system that became operational on 10 July 2007. Relative to the operational configuration that relies on the EnKF, the use of SVs to compute initial perturbations produces small, but statistically significant differences in probabilistic forecast scores in favor of the EnKF both in the tropics and, for a limited set of forecast lead times, in the summer hemisphere extratropics, whereas the results are very similar in the winter hemisphere extratropics. Both approaches lead to significantly better ensemble forecasts than with no initial perturbations, though results are quite similar in the tropics when using SVs and no perturbations. The use of an initial-time norm that does not include information on analysis uncertainty and the lack of linearized moist processes in the calculation of the SVs are two factors that limit the quality of the resulting SV-based ensemble forecasts. Relative to the operational configuration, use of the 4D-Var analysis to specify the initial ensemble mean results in improved probabilistic forecast scores during the boreal summer period in the southern extratropics and tropics, but a near-neutral impact otherwise.

Corresponding author address: Mark Buehner, Meteorological Research Division, Environment Canada, 2121 TransCanada Hwy., Dorval QC H9P 1J3, Canada. Email: mark.buehner@ec.gc.ca

This article included in the Intercomparisons of 4D-Variational Assimilation and the Ensemble Kalman Filter special collection.

Abstract

This study examines the sensitivity of global ensemble forecasts to the use of different approaches for specifying both the initial ensemble mean and perturbations. The current operational ensemble prediction system of the Meteorological Service of Canada uses the ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) to define both the ensemble mean and perturbations. To evaluate the impact of different approaches for obtaining the initial ensemble perturbations, the operational EnKF approach is compared with using either no initial perturbations or perturbations obtained using singular vectors (SVs). The SVs are computed using the (dry) total-energy norm with a 48-h optimization time interval. Random linear combinations of 60 SVs are computed for each of three regions. Next, the impact of replacing the initial ensemble mean, currently the EnKF ensemble mean analysis, with the higher-resolution operational four-dimensional variational data assimilation (4D-Var) analysis is evaluated. For this comparison, perturbations are provided by the EnKF. All experiments are performed over two-month periods during both the boreal summer and winter using a system very similar to the global ensemble prediction system that became operational on 10 July 2007. Relative to the operational configuration that relies on the EnKF, the use of SVs to compute initial perturbations produces small, but statistically significant differences in probabilistic forecast scores in favor of the EnKF both in the tropics and, for a limited set of forecast lead times, in the summer hemisphere extratropics, whereas the results are very similar in the winter hemisphere extratropics. Both approaches lead to significantly better ensemble forecasts than with no initial perturbations, though results are quite similar in the tropics when using SVs and no perturbations. The use of an initial-time norm that does not include information on analysis uncertainty and the lack of linearized moist processes in the calculation of the SVs are two factors that limit the quality of the resulting SV-based ensemble forecasts. Relative to the operational configuration, use of the 4D-Var analysis to specify the initial ensemble mean results in improved probabilistic forecast scores during the boreal summer period in the southern extratropics and tropics, but a near-neutral impact otherwise.

Corresponding author address: Mark Buehner, Meteorological Research Division, Environment Canada, 2121 TransCanada Hwy., Dorval QC H9P 1J3, Canada. Email: mark.buehner@ec.gc.ca

This article included in the Intercomparisons of 4D-Variational Assimilation and the Ensemble Kalman Filter special collection.

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