The Influence of Assimilated Upstream, Preconvective Dropsonde Observations on Ensemble Forecasts of Convection Initiation during the Mesoscale Predictability Experiment

Alexandra M. Keclik Atmospheric Science Program, Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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Clark Evans Atmospheric Science Program, Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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Paul J. Roebber Atmospheric Science Program, Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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Glen S. Romine National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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Abstract

This study tests the hypothesis that assimilating mid- to upper-tropospheric, meso-α- to synoptic-scale observations collected in upstream, preconvective environments is insufficient to improve short-range ensemble convection initiation (CI) forecast skill over the set of cases considered by the 2013 Mesoscale Predictability Experiment (MPEX) because of a limited influence upon the lower-tropospheric phenomena that modulate CI occurrence, timing, and location. The ensemble Kalman filter implementation within the Data Assimilation Research Testbed as coupled to the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model is used to initialize two nearly identical 30-member ensembles of short-range forecasts for each case: one initial condition set that incorporates MPEX dropsonde observations and one that excludes these observations. All forecasts for a given mission begin at 1500 UTC and are integrated for 15 h on a convection-permitting grid encompassing much of the conterminous United States. Forecast verification is conducted probabilistically using fractions skill score and deterministically using a 2 × 2 contingency table approach at multiple neighborhood sizes and spatiotemporal event-matching thresholds to assess forecast skill and support hypothesis testing. The probabilistic verification represents the first of its kind for numerical CI forecasts. Forecasts without MPEX observations have high fractions skill score and probabilities of detection on the meso-α scale but exhibit a considerable high bias for forecast CI event count. Assimilating MPEX observations has a negligible impact upon forecast skill for the cases considered, independent of verification metric, as the MPEX observations result in only subtle differences primarily manifest in the position and intensity of atmospheric features responsible for focusing and/or triggering deep, moist convection.

Current affiliation: National Weather Service, Chanhassen, Minnesota.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Clark Evans, evans36@uwm.edu

Abstract

This study tests the hypothesis that assimilating mid- to upper-tropospheric, meso-α- to synoptic-scale observations collected in upstream, preconvective environments is insufficient to improve short-range ensemble convection initiation (CI) forecast skill over the set of cases considered by the 2013 Mesoscale Predictability Experiment (MPEX) because of a limited influence upon the lower-tropospheric phenomena that modulate CI occurrence, timing, and location. The ensemble Kalman filter implementation within the Data Assimilation Research Testbed as coupled to the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model is used to initialize two nearly identical 30-member ensembles of short-range forecasts for each case: one initial condition set that incorporates MPEX dropsonde observations and one that excludes these observations. All forecasts for a given mission begin at 1500 UTC and are integrated for 15 h on a convection-permitting grid encompassing much of the conterminous United States. Forecast verification is conducted probabilistically using fractions skill score and deterministically using a 2 × 2 contingency table approach at multiple neighborhood sizes and spatiotemporal event-matching thresholds to assess forecast skill and support hypothesis testing. The probabilistic verification represents the first of its kind for numerical CI forecasts. Forecasts without MPEX observations have high fractions skill score and probabilities of detection on the meso-α scale but exhibit a considerable high bias for forecast CI event count. Assimilating MPEX observations has a negligible impact upon forecast skill for the cases considered, independent of verification metric, as the MPEX observations result in only subtle differences primarily manifest in the position and intensity of atmospheric features responsible for focusing and/or triggering deep, moist convection.

Current affiliation: National Weather Service, Chanhassen, Minnesota.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Clark Evans, evans36@uwm.edu
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