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Assimilation of Lightning Data Using a Nudging Method Involving Low-Level Warming

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  • 1 Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
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Abstract

This study presents a new method for assimilating lightning data into numerical models that is suitable at convection-permitting scales. The authors utilized data from the Earth Networks Total Lightning Network at 9-km grid spacing to mimic the resolution of the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) that will be on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R). The assimilation procedure utilizes the numerical Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. The method (denoted MU) warms the most unstable low levels of the atmosphere at locations where lightning was observed but deep convection was not simulated based on the absence of graupel. Simulation results are compared with those from a control simulation and a simulation employing the lightning assimilation method developed by Fierro et al. (denoted FO) that increases water vapor according to a nudging function that depends on the observed flash rate and simulated graupel mixing ratio. Results are presented for three severe storm days during 2011 and compared with hourly NCEP stage-IV precipitation observations. Compared to control simulations, both the MU and FO assimilation methods produce improved simulated precipitation fields during the assimilation period and a short time afterward based on subjective comparisons and objective statistical scores (~0.1, or 50%, improvement of equitable threat scores). The MU generally performs better at simulating isolated thunderstorms and other weakly forced deep convection, while FO performs better for the case having strong synoptic forcing. Results show that the newly developed MU method is a viable alternative to the FO method, exhibiting utility in producing thunderstorms where observed, and providing improved analyses at low computational cost.

Corresponding author address: Max R. Marchand, Florida State University, Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science Meteorology, Rm. 404 Love Bldg., 1017 Academic Way, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4520. E-mail: mrm06j@my.fsu.edu

Abstract

This study presents a new method for assimilating lightning data into numerical models that is suitable at convection-permitting scales. The authors utilized data from the Earth Networks Total Lightning Network at 9-km grid spacing to mimic the resolution of the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) that will be on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R). The assimilation procedure utilizes the numerical Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. The method (denoted MU) warms the most unstable low levels of the atmosphere at locations where lightning was observed but deep convection was not simulated based on the absence of graupel. Simulation results are compared with those from a control simulation and a simulation employing the lightning assimilation method developed by Fierro et al. (denoted FO) that increases water vapor according to a nudging function that depends on the observed flash rate and simulated graupel mixing ratio. Results are presented for three severe storm days during 2011 and compared with hourly NCEP stage-IV precipitation observations. Compared to control simulations, both the MU and FO assimilation methods produce improved simulated precipitation fields during the assimilation period and a short time afterward based on subjective comparisons and objective statistical scores (~0.1, or 50%, improvement of equitable threat scores). The MU generally performs better at simulating isolated thunderstorms and other weakly forced deep convection, while FO performs better for the case having strong synoptic forcing. Results show that the newly developed MU method is a viable alternative to the FO method, exhibiting utility in producing thunderstorms where observed, and providing improved analyses at low computational cost.

Corresponding author address: Max R. Marchand, Florida State University, Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science Meteorology, Rm. 404 Love Bldg., 1017 Academic Way, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4520. E-mail: mrm06j@my.fsu.edu
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