Influence of Surface Observations in Mesoscale Data Assimilation Using an Ensemble Kalman Filter

So-Young Ha National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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Chris Snyder National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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Abstract

The assimilation of surface observations using an ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) approach was successfully performed in the Advanced Research version of the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) coupled with the Data Assimilation Research Testbed (DART) system. The mesoscale cycling experiment for the continuous ensemble data assimilation was verified against independent surface mesonet observations and demonstrated the positive impact on short-range forecasts over the contiguous U.S. (CONUS) domain throughout the month-long period of June 2008. The EnKF assimilation of surface observations was found useful for systematically improving the simulation of the depth and the structure of the planetary boundary layer (PBL) and the reduction of surface bias errors. These benefits were extended above PBL and resulted in a better precipitation forecast for up to 12 h. With the careful specification of observation errors, not only the reliability of the ensemble system but also the quality of the following forecast was improved, especially in moisture. In this retrospective case study of a squall line, assimilation of surface observations produced analysis increments consistent with the structure and dynamics of the boundary layer. As a result, it enhanced the horizontal gradient of temperature and moisture across the frontal system to provide a favorable condition for the convective initiation and the following heavy rainfall prediction in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Even with the assimilation of upper-level observations, the analysis without the assimilation of surface observations simulated a surface cold front that was much weaker and slower than observed.

Corresponding author address: Dr. So-Young Ha, NCAR/MMM, 3450 Mitchelle Ln., P. O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80301. E-mail: syha@ucar.edu

Abstract

The assimilation of surface observations using an ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) approach was successfully performed in the Advanced Research version of the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) coupled with the Data Assimilation Research Testbed (DART) system. The mesoscale cycling experiment for the continuous ensemble data assimilation was verified against independent surface mesonet observations and demonstrated the positive impact on short-range forecasts over the contiguous U.S. (CONUS) domain throughout the month-long period of June 2008. The EnKF assimilation of surface observations was found useful for systematically improving the simulation of the depth and the structure of the planetary boundary layer (PBL) and the reduction of surface bias errors. These benefits were extended above PBL and resulted in a better precipitation forecast for up to 12 h. With the careful specification of observation errors, not only the reliability of the ensemble system but also the quality of the following forecast was improved, especially in moisture. In this retrospective case study of a squall line, assimilation of surface observations produced analysis increments consistent with the structure and dynamics of the boundary layer. As a result, it enhanced the horizontal gradient of temperature and moisture across the frontal system to provide a favorable condition for the convective initiation and the following heavy rainfall prediction in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Even with the assimilation of upper-level observations, the analysis without the assimilation of surface observations simulated a surface cold front that was much weaker and slower than observed.

Corresponding author address: Dr. So-Young Ha, NCAR/MMM, 3450 Mitchelle Ln., P. O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80301. E-mail: syha@ucar.edu
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