Lightning Data Assimilation Scheme in a 4DVAR System and its Impact on Very-Short-Term Convective Forecasting

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  • 1 Institute of Urban Meteorology, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China
  • 2 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, USA
  • 3 Key Laboratory of Middle Atmosphere and Global Environment Observation, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 4 College of Earth and Planetary Science, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 5 School of Atmospheric Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai, China
  • 6 Training Center, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China
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Abstract

A proof-of-concept method for the assimilation of total lightning observations in the 4DVAR framework is proposed and implemented into the Variational Doppler Radar Analysis System (VDRAS). Its performance is evaluated for the very-short-term precipitation forecasts of a localized convective event over northeastern China. The lightning DA scheme assimilated pseudo observations for vertical velocity fields derived from observed total lightning rates and statistically computed vertical velocity profile from VDRAS analysis data. To reduce representative errors of the derived vertical velocity, a distance-weighted horizontal interpolation is applied to the input data prior to the DA. The case study reveals that although 0–2 hour precipitation nowcasts are improved by assimilating lightning data alone compared to CTRL (no radar or lightning) and RAD (radar only), better results are obtained when the lightning data are assimilated with radar data simultaneously. The assimilation of both data sources results in improved dynamical consistency with enhanced updraft and latent heat as well as improved moisture distributions. Additional experiments are conducted to evaluate the sensitivity of the combined DA scheme to varied vertical velocity profiles, radii of horizontal interpolation, binning time intervals, and relationships used to estimate the maximum vertical velocity from lightning flash rates. It is shown that the scheme is robust to these variations with both radar and lightning assimilated data.

Corresponding authors: Xian Xiao, xxiao@ium.cn

Abstract

A proof-of-concept method for the assimilation of total lightning observations in the 4DVAR framework is proposed and implemented into the Variational Doppler Radar Analysis System (VDRAS). Its performance is evaluated for the very-short-term precipitation forecasts of a localized convective event over northeastern China. The lightning DA scheme assimilated pseudo observations for vertical velocity fields derived from observed total lightning rates and statistically computed vertical velocity profile from VDRAS analysis data. To reduce representative errors of the derived vertical velocity, a distance-weighted horizontal interpolation is applied to the input data prior to the DA. The case study reveals that although 0–2 hour precipitation nowcasts are improved by assimilating lightning data alone compared to CTRL (no radar or lightning) and RAD (radar only), better results are obtained when the lightning data are assimilated with radar data simultaneously. The assimilation of both data sources results in improved dynamical consistency with enhanced updraft and latent heat as well as improved moisture distributions. Additional experiments are conducted to evaluate the sensitivity of the combined DA scheme to varied vertical velocity profiles, radii of horizontal interpolation, binning time intervals, and relationships used to estimate the maximum vertical velocity from lightning flash rates. It is shown that the scheme is robust to these variations with both radar and lightning assimilated data.

Corresponding authors: Xian Xiao, xxiao@ium.cn
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