A Nonparametric Ensemble Postprocessing Approach for Short-Range Visibility Predictions in Data-Sparse Areas

William R. Ryerson Naval Postgraduate School, Department of Meteorology, Monterey, California

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Joshua P. Hacker Naval Postgraduate School, Department of Meteorology, Monterey, California

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Abstract

This work develops and tests the viability of obtaining skillful short-range (<20 h) visibility predictions using statistical postprocessing of a 4-km, 10-member Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) ensemble configured to closely match the U.S. Air Force Mesoscale Ensemble Forecast System. The raw WRF predictions produce excessive forecasts of zero cloud water, which is simultaneously predicted by all ensemble members in 62% of observed fog cases, leading to zero ensemble dispersion and no skill in these cases. Adding dispersion to the clear cases by making upward adjustments to cloud water predictions from individual members not predicting fog on their own provides the best chance to increase the resolution and reliability of the ensemble. The technique leverages traits of a joint parameter space in the predictions and is generally most effective when the space is defined with a moisture parameter and a low-level stability parameter. Cross-validation shows that the method adds significant overnight skill to predictions in valley and coastal regions compared to the raw WRF forecasts, with modest skill increases after sunrise. Postprocessing does not improve the highly skillful raw WRF predictions at the mountain test sites. Since the framework addresses only systematic WRF deficiencies and identifies parameter pairs with a clear, non-site-specific physical mechanism of predictive power, it has geographical transferability with less need for recalibration or observational record compared to other statistical postprocessing approaches.

Current affiliation: U.S. Air Force, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

Current affiliation: Jupiter, Boulder, Colorado.

© 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: William R. Ryerson, william.ryerson@us.af.mil

Abstract

This work develops and tests the viability of obtaining skillful short-range (<20 h) visibility predictions using statistical postprocessing of a 4-km, 10-member Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) ensemble configured to closely match the U.S. Air Force Mesoscale Ensemble Forecast System. The raw WRF predictions produce excessive forecasts of zero cloud water, which is simultaneously predicted by all ensemble members in 62% of observed fog cases, leading to zero ensemble dispersion and no skill in these cases. Adding dispersion to the clear cases by making upward adjustments to cloud water predictions from individual members not predicting fog on their own provides the best chance to increase the resolution and reliability of the ensemble. The technique leverages traits of a joint parameter space in the predictions and is generally most effective when the space is defined with a moisture parameter and a low-level stability parameter. Cross-validation shows that the method adds significant overnight skill to predictions in valley and coastal regions compared to the raw WRF forecasts, with modest skill increases after sunrise. Postprocessing does not improve the highly skillful raw WRF predictions at the mountain test sites. Since the framework addresses only systematic WRF deficiencies and identifies parameter pairs with a clear, non-site-specific physical mechanism of predictive power, it has geographical transferability with less need for recalibration or observational record compared to other statistical postprocessing approaches.

Current affiliation: U.S. Air Force, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

Current affiliation: Jupiter, Boulder, Colorado.

© 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: William R. Ryerson, william.ryerson@us.af.mil
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