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Numerical Prediction of the Summertime Ridge–Trough System over Northeastern Australia

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  • 1 Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne, Australia
  • | 2 University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
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Abstract

The synoptic pattern over northeastern Australia is dominated in the warmer months by a ridge–trough system. Accurate prediction of the location of the system is a significant forecasting problem for regional and global operational models. The regional model that was operational at the time of this study exhibited two significant weaknesses characteristic of many current operational global models, a westward bias in the location of the east coast ridge and errors in the location and strength of the inland trough. The present investigation had three aims:to compute model location errors of the ridge–trough system from a large (6 month, twice daily) dataset of operational forecasts, to explain these errors by evaluating a new regional model, and to confirm the diagnosis using a series of case studies and sensitivity studies. The operational model had a marked mean westward bias of about 2° longitude in the location of both the trough and the ridge. There was a noticeable latitudinal distribution in trough errors with the greatest errors in the north. Ridge location errors were much larger in the south. Overall, almost 60% of errors were 2° longitude or greater. The new model was far more skillful in forecasting the ridge–trough system with predicted locations of both ridges and troughs being superior at greater than the 99% confidence level. In the new model a mean westward error remained in the location of the ridges and troughs but was less than 1°. The percentage of errors greater than 2° longitude dropped to about 20% for ridges and 35% for troughs. The decreased location errors in the new model are attributed to improved representation of the steep coastal orography and of the simulations of both the heat low and inland trough to the west of the coastal ranges. This was confirmed in three case studies at very high resolution (15 km) using the new model but with operational data and also in two sensitivity studies with the new model using the operational model forecast surface temperatures. The forecasts showed similar trough location problems to the operational model.

Corresponding author address: T. C. L. Skinner, Bureau of Meteorology, P.O. Box 1289K, GPO Melbourne, Victoria 3001, Australia.

Email: tcs@bom.gov.au

Abstract

The synoptic pattern over northeastern Australia is dominated in the warmer months by a ridge–trough system. Accurate prediction of the location of the system is a significant forecasting problem for regional and global operational models. The regional model that was operational at the time of this study exhibited two significant weaknesses characteristic of many current operational global models, a westward bias in the location of the east coast ridge and errors in the location and strength of the inland trough. The present investigation had three aims:to compute model location errors of the ridge–trough system from a large (6 month, twice daily) dataset of operational forecasts, to explain these errors by evaluating a new regional model, and to confirm the diagnosis using a series of case studies and sensitivity studies. The operational model had a marked mean westward bias of about 2° longitude in the location of both the trough and the ridge. There was a noticeable latitudinal distribution in trough errors with the greatest errors in the north. Ridge location errors were much larger in the south. Overall, almost 60% of errors were 2° longitude or greater. The new model was far more skillful in forecasting the ridge–trough system with predicted locations of both ridges and troughs being superior at greater than the 99% confidence level. In the new model a mean westward error remained in the location of the ridges and troughs but was less than 1°. The percentage of errors greater than 2° longitude dropped to about 20% for ridges and 35% for troughs. The decreased location errors in the new model are attributed to improved representation of the steep coastal orography and of the simulations of both the heat low and inland trough to the west of the coastal ranges. This was confirmed in three case studies at very high resolution (15 km) using the new model but with operational data and also in two sensitivity studies with the new model using the operational model forecast surface temperatures. The forecasts showed similar trough location problems to the operational model.

Corresponding author address: T. C. L. Skinner, Bureau of Meteorology, P.O. Box 1289K, GPO Melbourne, Victoria 3001, Australia.

Email: tcs@bom.gov.au

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