Can a Moderate-Resolution Limited-Area Data Assimilation System Add Value to the Global Analysis of Tropical Cyclones?

Christina R. Holt Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

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Istvan Szunyogh Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

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Gyorgyi Gyarmati Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

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Abstract

This study investigates the benefits of employing a limited-area data assimilation (DA) system to enhance lower-resolution global analyses in the northwest Pacific tropical cyclone (TC) basin. Numerical experiments are carried out with a global analysis system at horizontal resolution T62 and a limited-area analysis system at resolutions from 200 to 36 km. The global and limited-area DA systems, which are both based on the local ensemble transform Kalman filter algorithm, are implemented using a unique configuration, in which the global DA system provides information about the large-scale analysis and background uncertainty to the limited-area DA system. The limited-area analyses of the storm locations are, on average, more accurate than those from the global analyses, but increasing the resolution of the limited-area system beyond 100 km has little benefit. Two factors contribute to the higher accuracy of the limited-area analyses. First, the limited-area system improves the accuracy of the location estimates for strong storms, which is introduced when the background is updated by the global assimilation. Second, it improves the accuracy of the background estimate of the storm locations for moderate and weak storms. Improvements in the steering flow analysis as a result of increased resolution are modest and short lived in the forecasts. Limited-area track forecasts are more accurate, on average, than global forecasts, independently of the strength of the storms up to five days. This forecast improvement is due to the more accurate analysis of the initial position of storms and the better representation of the interactions between the storms and their immediate environment.

Corresponding author address: Christina R. Holt, Texas A&M University 1204 Eller O&M, 3150 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843. E-mail: crh403@tamu.edu

Abstract

This study investigates the benefits of employing a limited-area data assimilation (DA) system to enhance lower-resolution global analyses in the northwest Pacific tropical cyclone (TC) basin. Numerical experiments are carried out with a global analysis system at horizontal resolution T62 and a limited-area analysis system at resolutions from 200 to 36 km. The global and limited-area DA systems, which are both based on the local ensemble transform Kalman filter algorithm, are implemented using a unique configuration, in which the global DA system provides information about the large-scale analysis and background uncertainty to the limited-area DA system. The limited-area analyses of the storm locations are, on average, more accurate than those from the global analyses, but increasing the resolution of the limited-area system beyond 100 km has little benefit. Two factors contribute to the higher accuracy of the limited-area analyses. First, the limited-area system improves the accuracy of the location estimates for strong storms, which is introduced when the background is updated by the global assimilation. Second, it improves the accuracy of the background estimate of the storm locations for moderate and weak storms. Improvements in the steering flow analysis as a result of increased resolution are modest and short lived in the forecasts. Limited-area track forecasts are more accurate, on average, than global forecasts, independently of the strength of the storms up to five days. This forecast improvement is due to the more accurate analysis of the initial position of storms and the better representation of the interactions between the storms and their immediate environment.

Corresponding author address: Christina R. Holt, Texas A&M University 1204 Eller O&M, 3150 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843. E-mail: crh403@tamu.edu
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