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COAMPS Real-Time Dust Storm Forecasting during Operation Iraqi Freedom

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  • 1 Marine Meteorology Division, Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey, California
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Abstract

Dust storms are a significant weather phenomenon in the Iraq region in winter and spring. Real-time dust forecasting using the U.S. Navy’s Coupled Ocean–Atmospheric Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) with an in-line dust aerosol model was conducted for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in March and April 2003. Daily forecasts of dust mass concentration, visibility, and optical depth were produced out to 72 h on nested grids of 9-, 27-, and 81-km resolution in two-way nest interaction. In this paper, the model is described, as are examples of its application during OIF. The model performance is evaluated using ground weather reports, visibility observations, and enhanced satellite retrievals. The comparison of the model forecasts with observations for the severe dust storms of OIF shows that COAMPS predicted the arrival and retreat of the major dust events within 2 h. In most cases, COAMPS predicted the intensity (reduction in visibility) of storms with an error of less than 1 km. The forecasts of the spatial distribution of dust fronts and dust plumes were consistent with those seen in the satellite images and the corresponding cold front observations. A statistical analysis of dust-related visibility for the OIF period reveals that COAMPS generates higher bias, rms, and relative errors at the stations having high frequencies of dust storms and near the source areas. The calculation of forecast accuracy shows that COAMPS achieved a probability of dust detection of 50%–90% and a threat score of 0.3–0.55 at the stations with frequent dust storms. Overall, the model predicted more than 85% of the observed dust and nondust weather events at the stations used in the verification for the OIF period. Comparisons of the forecast rates and statistical errors for the forecasts of different lengths (12–72 h) for both dust and dynamics fields during the strong dust storm of 26 March revealed little dependence of model accuracy on forecast length, implying that the successive COAMPS forecasts were consistent for the severest OIF dust event.

Corresponding author address: Ming Liu, Naval Research Laboratory, 7 Grace Hopper Ave., Monterey, CA 93943. Email: ming.liu@nrlmry.navy.mil

Abstract

Dust storms are a significant weather phenomenon in the Iraq region in winter and spring. Real-time dust forecasting using the U.S. Navy’s Coupled Ocean–Atmospheric Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) with an in-line dust aerosol model was conducted for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in March and April 2003. Daily forecasts of dust mass concentration, visibility, and optical depth were produced out to 72 h on nested grids of 9-, 27-, and 81-km resolution in two-way nest interaction. In this paper, the model is described, as are examples of its application during OIF. The model performance is evaluated using ground weather reports, visibility observations, and enhanced satellite retrievals. The comparison of the model forecasts with observations for the severe dust storms of OIF shows that COAMPS predicted the arrival and retreat of the major dust events within 2 h. In most cases, COAMPS predicted the intensity (reduction in visibility) of storms with an error of less than 1 km. The forecasts of the spatial distribution of dust fronts and dust plumes were consistent with those seen in the satellite images and the corresponding cold front observations. A statistical analysis of dust-related visibility for the OIF period reveals that COAMPS generates higher bias, rms, and relative errors at the stations having high frequencies of dust storms and near the source areas. The calculation of forecast accuracy shows that COAMPS achieved a probability of dust detection of 50%–90% and a threat score of 0.3–0.55 at the stations with frequent dust storms. Overall, the model predicted more than 85% of the observed dust and nondust weather events at the stations used in the verification for the OIF period. Comparisons of the forecast rates and statistical errors for the forecasts of different lengths (12–72 h) for both dust and dynamics fields during the strong dust storm of 26 March revealed little dependence of model accuracy on forecast length, implying that the successive COAMPS forecasts were consistent for the severest OIF dust event.

Corresponding author address: Ming Liu, Naval Research Laboratory, 7 Grace Hopper Ave., Monterey, CA 93943. Email: ming.liu@nrlmry.navy.mil

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