3DVAR versus Traditional Dual-Doppler Wind Retrievals of a Simulated Supercell Thunderstorm

Corey K. Potvin NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Daniel Betten School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

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Louis J. Wicker NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Kimberly L. Elmore Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, University of Oklahoma, and NOAA/OAR/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Michael I. Biggerstaff School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

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Abstract

Use of the three-dimensional variational data assimilation (3DVAR) framework in dual-Doppler wind analysis (DDA) offers several advantages over traditional techniques. Perhaps the most important is that the errors that result from explicit integration of the mass continuity equation in traditional methods are avoided. In this study, observing system simulation experiments (OSSEs) are used to compare supercell thunderstorm wind retrievals from a 3DVAR DDA technique and three traditional DDA methods. The 3DVAR technique produces better wind retrievals near the top of the storm than the traditional methods in the experiments. This is largely attributed to the occurrence of severe errors aloft in the traditional retrievals whether the continuity equation integration proceeds upward (due to vertically accumulating errors), downward (due to severe boundary condition errors arising from uncertainty in the horizontal divergence field aloft), or in both directions. Smaller, but statistically significant, improvement occurs near the ground using the 3DVAR method. When lack of upper-level observations prevents application of a top boundary condition in the traditional DDA framework, the 3DVAR approach produces better analyses at all levels. These results strongly suggest the 3DVAR DDA framework is generally preferable to traditional formulations.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Corey K. Potvin, National Severe Storms Laboratory, National Weather Center, 120 David L. Boren Blvd., Norman, OK 73072. E-mail: corey.potvin@noaa.gov

Abstract

Use of the three-dimensional variational data assimilation (3DVAR) framework in dual-Doppler wind analysis (DDA) offers several advantages over traditional techniques. Perhaps the most important is that the errors that result from explicit integration of the mass continuity equation in traditional methods are avoided. In this study, observing system simulation experiments (OSSEs) are used to compare supercell thunderstorm wind retrievals from a 3DVAR DDA technique and three traditional DDA methods. The 3DVAR technique produces better wind retrievals near the top of the storm than the traditional methods in the experiments. This is largely attributed to the occurrence of severe errors aloft in the traditional retrievals whether the continuity equation integration proceeds upward (due to vertically accumulating errors), downward (due to severe boundary condition errors arising from uncertainty in the horizontal divergence field aloft), or in both directions. Smaller, but statistically significant, improvement occurs near the ground using the 3DVAR method. When lack of upper-level observations prevents application of a top boundary condition in the traditional DDA framework, the 3DVAR approach produces better analyses at all levels. These results strongly suggest the 3DVAR DDA framework is generally preferable to traditional formulations.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Corey K. Potvin, National Severe Storms Laboratory, National Weather Center, 120 David L. Boren Blvd., Norman, OK 73072. E-mail: corey.potvin@noaa.gov
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