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Impact Assessment of Assimilating NASA’s RapidScat Surface Wind Retrievals in the NOAA Global Data Assimilation System

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  • 1 Atmospheric Environmental Research, Inc., College Park, Maryland
  • | 2 Riverside Technology, Inc., College Park, Maryland
  • | 3 NOAA/NESDIS/Center for Satellite Applications and Research, College Park, Maryland
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Abstract

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) RapidScat scatterometer on board the International Space Station (ISS) provides observations of surface winds that can be assimilated into numerical weather prediction (NWP) forecast models. In this study, the authors assess the data quality of the RapidScat Level 2B surface wind vector retrievals and the impact of those observations on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Global Forecast System (GFS). The RapidScat is found to provide quality measurements of surface wind speed and direction in nonprecipitating conditions and to provide observations that add both information and robustness to the global satellite observing system used in NWP models. The authors find that with an assumed uncertainty in wind speed of around 2 m s−1, the RapidScat has neutral impact on the short-range forecast of surface wind vectors in the tropics but improves both the analysis and background field of surface wind vectors. However, the deployment of RapidScat on the ISS presents some challenges for use of these wind vector observations in operational NWP, including frequent maneuvers of the spacecraft that could alter instrument performance.

© 2018 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: Ling Liu, ling.liu@noaa.gov

Abstract

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) RapidScat scatterometer on board the International Space Station (ISS) provides observations of surface winds that can be assimilated into numerical weather prediction (NWP) forecast models. In this study, the authors assess the data quality of the RapidScat Level 2B surface wind vector retrievals and the impact of those observations on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Global Forecast System (GFS). The RapidScat is found to provide quality measurements of surface wind speed and direction in nonprecipitating conditions and to provide observations that add both information and robustness to the global satellite observing system used in NWP models. The authors find that with an assumed uncertainty in wind speed of around 2 m s−1, the RapidScat has neutral impact on the short-range forecast of surface wind vectors in the tropics but improves both the analysis and background field of surface wind vectors. However, the deployment of RapidScat on the ISS presents some challenges for use of these wind vector observations in operational NWP, including frequent maneuvers of the spacecraft that could alter instrument performance.

© 2018 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: Ling Liu, ling.liu@noaa.gov
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