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John L. Cintineo, Michael J. Pavolonis, Justin M. Sieglaff, Anthony Wimmers, Jason Brunner, and Willard Bellon

Abstract

Intense thunderstorms threaten life and property, impact aviation, and are a challenging forecast problem, particularly without precipitation-sensing radar data. Trained forecasters often look for features in geostationary satellite images such as rapid cloud growth, strong and persistent overshooting tops, U- or V-shaped patterns in storm-top temperature (and associated above-anvil cirrus plumes), thermal couplets, intricate texturing in cloud albedo (e.g., “bubbling” cloud tops), cloud-top divergence, spatial and temporal trends in lightning, and other nuances to identify intense thunderstorms. In this paper, a machine-learning algorithm was employed to automatically learn and extract salient features and patterns in geostationary satellite data for the prediction of intense convection. Namely, a convolutional neural network (CNN) was trained on 0.64-μm reflectance and 10.35-μm brightness temperature from the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) and flash-extent density (FED) from the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) on board GOES-16. Using a training dataset consisting of over 220 000 human-labeled satellite images, the CNN learned pertinent features that are known to be associated with intense convection and skillfully discriminated between intense and ordinary convection. The CNN also learned a more nuanced feature associated with intense convection—strong infrared brightness temperature gradients near cloud edges in the vicinity of the main updraft. A successive-permutation test ranked the most important predictors as follows: 1) ABI 10.35-μm brightness temperature, 2) ABI GLM flash-extent density, and 3) ABI 0.64-μm reflectance. The CNN model can provide forecasters with quantitative information that often foreshadows the occurrence of severe weather, day or night, over the full range of instrument-scan modes.

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I-Han Chen, Jing-Shan Hong, Ya-Ting Tsai, and Chin-Tzu Fong

Abstract

Recently, the Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan developed a WRF- and WRF data assimilation (WRFDA)-based convective-scale data assimilation system to increase model predictability toward high-impact weather. In this study, we focus on afternoon thunderstorm (AT) prediction and investigate the following questions: 1) Is the designation of a rapid update cycle strategy with a blending scheme effective? 2) Can surface data assimilation contribute positively to AT prediction under the complex geography of Taiwan island? 3) What is the relative importance between radar and surface observation to AT prediction? 4) Can we increase the AT forecast lead time in the morning through data assimilation? Consecutive ATs from 30 June to 8 July 2017 are investigated. Five experiments, each having 240 continuous cycles, are designed. Results show that employing continuous cycles with a blending scheme mitigates model spinup compared with downscaled forecasts. Although there are few radar echoes before AT initiation, assimilating radar observations is still crucial since it largely corrects model errors in cycles. However, assimilating surface observations is more important compared with radar in terms of extending forecast lead time in the morning. Either radar or surface observations contribute positively, and assimilating both has the highest QPF score. Assimilating surface observations systematically improves surface wind and temperature predictions based on 240 cases. A case study demonstrates that the model can capture the AT initiation and development by assimilating surface and radar observations. Its cold pool and outflow boundary prediction are also improved. In this case, the assimilation of surface wind and water vapor in the morning contributes more compared with temperature and pressure.

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Brice E. Coffer, Mateusz Taszarek, and Matthew D. Parker

Abstract

The near-ground wind profile exhibits significant control over the organization, intensity, and steadiness of low-level updrafts and mesocyclones in severe thunderstorms, and thus their probability of being associated with tornadogenesis. The present work builds upon recent improvements in supercell tornado forecasting by examining the possibility that storm-relative helicity (SRH) integrated over progressively shallower layers has increased skill in differentiating between significantly tornadic and nontornadic severe thunderstorms. For a population of severe thunderstorms in the United States and Europe, sounding-derived parameters are computed from the ERA5 reanalysis, which has significantly enhanced vertical resolution compared to prior analyses. The ERA5 is shown to represent U.S. convective environments similarly to the Storm Prediction Center’s mesoscale surface objective analysis, but its greater number of vertical levels in the lower troposphere permits calculations to be performed over shallower layers. In the ERA5, progressively shallower layers of SRH provide greater discrimination between nontornadic and significantly tornadic thunderstorms in both the United States and Europe. In the United States, the 0–100 m AGL layer has the highest forecast skill of any SRH layer tested, although gains are comparatively modest for layers shallower than 0–500 m AGL. In Europe, the benefit from using shallower layers of SRH is even greater; the lower-tropospheric SRH is by far the most skillful ingredient there, far exceeding related composite parameters like the significant tornado parameter (which has negligible skill in Europe).

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Jadwiga H. Richter, Kathy Pegion, Lantao Sun, Hyemi Kim, Julie M. Caron, Anne Glanville, Emerson LaJoie, Stephen Yeager, Who M. Kim, Ahmed Tawfik, and Dan Collins

Abstract

There is a growing demand for understanding sources of predictability on subseasonal to seasonal (S2S) time scales. Predictability at subseasonal time scales is believed to come from processes varying slower than the atmosphere such as soil moisture, snowpack, sea ice, and ocean heat content. The stratosphere as well as tropospheric modes of variability can also provide predictability at subseasonal time scales. However, the contributions of the above sources to S2S predictability are not well quantified. Here we evaluate the subseasonal prediction skill of the Community Earth System Model, version 1 (CESM1), in the default version of the model as well as a version with the improved representation of stratospheric variability to assess the role of an improved stratosphere on prediction skill. We demonstrate that the subseasonal skill of CESM1 for surface temperature and precipitation is comparable to that of operational models. We find that a better-resolved stratosphere improves stratospheric but not surface prediction skill for weeks 3–4.

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Caroline Jouan, Jason A. Milbrandt, Paul A. Vaillancourt, Frédérick Chosson, and Hugh Morrison

Abstract

A parameterization for the subgrid-scale cloud and precipitation fractions has been incorporated into the Predicted Particle Properties (P3) microphysics scheme for use in atmospheric models with relatively coarse horizontal resolution. The modified scheme was tested in a simple 1D kinematic model and in the Canadian Global Environmental Multiscale (GEM) model using an operational global NWP configuration with a 25-km grid spacing. A series of 5-day forecast simulations was run using P3 and the much simpler operational Sundqvist condensation scheme as a benchmark for comparison. The effects of using P3 in a global GEM configuration, with and without the modifications, were explored through statistical metrics of common forecast fields against upper-air and surface observations. Diagnostics of state variable tendencies from various physics parameterizations were examined to identify possible sources of errors resulting from the use of the modified scheme. Sensitivity tests were performed on the coupling between the deep convection parameterization scheme and the microphysics, specifically regarding assumptions in the physical properties of detrained ice. It was found that even without recalibration of the suite of moist physical parameterizations, substituting the Sundqvist condensation scheme with the modified P3 microphysics resulted in some significant improvements to the temperature and geopotential height bias throughout the troposphere and out to day 5, but with degradation to error standard deviation toward the end of the integrations, as well as an increase in the positive bias of precipitation quantities. The modified P3 scheme was thus shown to hold promise for potential use in coarse-resolution NWP systems.

Open access
Gary M. Lackmann, Brian Ancell, Matthew Bunkers, Ben Kirtman, Karen Kosiba, Amy McGovern, Lynn McMurdie, Zhaoxia Pu, Elizabeth Ritchie, and Henry P. Huntington
Open access
Pao-Liang Chang, Wei-Ting Fang, Pin-Fang Lin, and Yu-Shuang Tang

Abstract

As Typhoon Goni (2015) passed over Ishigaki Island, a maximum gust speed of 71 m s−1 was observed by a surface weather station. During Typhoon Goni’s passage, mountaintop radar recorded antenna elevation angle oscillations, with a maximum amplitude of ~0.2° at an elevation angle of 0.2°. This oscillation phenomenon was reflected in the reflectivity and Doppler velocity fields as Typhoon Goni’s eyewall encompassed Ishigaki Island. The main antenna oscillation period was approximately 0.21–0.38 s under an antenna rotational speed of ~4 rpm. The estimated fundamental vibration period of the radar tower is approximately 0.25–0.44 s, which is comparable to the predominant antenna oscillation period and agrees with the expected wind-induced vibrations of buildings. The reflectivity field at the 0.2° elevation angle exhibited a phase shift signature and a negative correlation of −0.5 with the antenna oscillation, associated with the negative vertical gradient of reflectivity. FFT analysis revealed two antenna oscillation periods at 0955–1205 and 1335–1445 UTC 23 August 2015. The oscillation phenomenon ceased between these two periods because Typhoon Goni’s eye moved over the radar site. The VAD analysis-estimated wind speeds at a range of 1 km for these two antenna oscillation periods exceeded 45 m s−1, with a maximum value of approximately 70 m s−1. A bandpass filter QC procedure is proposed to filter out the predominant wavenumbers (between 40 and 70) for the reflectivity and Doppler velocity fields. The proposed QC procedure is indicated to be capable of mitigating the major signals resulting from antenna oscillations.

Open access
Nathan J. L. Lenssen, Lisa Goddard, and Simon Mason

Abstract

El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the dominant source of seasonal climate predictability. This study quantifies the historical impact of ENSO on seasonal precipitation through an update of the global ENSO teleconnection maps of Mason and Goddard. Many additional teleconnections are detected due to better handling of missing values and 20 years of additional, higher quality data. These global teleconnection maps are used as deterministic and probabilistic empirical seasonal forecasts in a verification study. The probabilistic empirical forecast model outperforms climatology in the tropics demonstrating the value of a forecast derived from the expected precipitation anomalies given the ENSO phase. Incorporating uncertainty due to SST prediction shows that teleconnection maps are skillful in predicting tropical precipitation up to a lead time of 4 months. The historical IRI seasonal forecasts generally outperform the empirical forecasts made with the teleconnection maps, demonstrating the additional value of state-of-the-art dynamical-based seasonal forecast systems. Additionally, the probabilistic empirical seasonal forecasts are proposed as reference forecasts for future skill assessments of real-time seasonal forecast systems.

Open access
Peter Vogel, Peter Knippertz, Andreas H. Fink, Andreas Schlueter, and Tilmann Gneiting

Abstract

Precipitation forecasts are of large societal value in the tropics. Here, we compare 1–5-day ensemble predictions from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF, 2009–17) and the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC, 2009–16) over 30°S–30°N with an extended probabilistic climatology based on the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission 3 B42 gridded dataset. Both models predict rainfall occurrence better than the reference only over about half of all land points, with a better performance by MSC. After applying the postprocessing technique ensemble model output statistics, this fraction increases to 87% (ECMWF) and 82% (MSC). For rainfall amount there is skill in many tropical areas (about 60% of land points), which can be increased by postprocessing to 97% (ECMWF) and 88% (MSC). Forecasts for extremes (>20 mm) are only marginally worse than those of occurrence but do not improve as much through postprocessing, particularly over dry areas. Forecast performance is generally best over arid Australia and worst over oceanic deserts, the Andes and Himalayas, as well as over tropical Africa, where models misrepresent the high degree of convective organization, such that even postprocessed forecasts are hardly better than climatology. Skill of 5-day accumulated forecasts often exceeds that of shorter ranges, as timing errors matter less. An increase in resolution and major model update in 2010 has significantly improved ECMWF predictions. Especially over tropical Africa new techniques such as convection-permitting models or combined statistical-dynamical forecasts may be needed to generate skill beyond the climatological reference.

Open access
Jonny Mooneyham, Sean C. Crosby, Nirnimesh Kumar, and Brian Hutchinson

Abstract

Skillful nearshore wave forecasts are critical for providing timely alerts of hazardous wave events that impact navigation or recreational beach use. While typical forecasts provide bulk wave parameters (wave height and period), spectral details are needed to correctly predict wave and associated circulation dynamics in the nearshore region. Currently, global wave models, such as WAVEWATCH III (WW3), make spectral predictions, but do not assimilate regional buoy observations. Here, Spectral Wave Residual Learning Network (SWRL Net), a fully convolutional neural network, is trained to take recent WW3 forecasts and buoy observations, and produce corrections to frequency-directional WW3 spectra, transformed into directional buoy moments, for up to 24 h in the future. SWRL Net is trained with 10 years of collocated NOAA’s WW3 CFSR reanalysis predictions and buoy observations at three locations offshore of the U.S. western coast. At buoy locations SWRL Net residual corrections result in wave height root-mean-square error (RMSE) reductions of 23%–50% in the first 6 h and 10%–20% thereafter. Sea frequencies (5–10 s) show the most improvement compared to swell (12–20 s). SWRL Net reduces mean direction RMSE by 28%–54% and mean period RMSE by 20%–56% over 24 forecast hours. While each model is trained and tested at independent locations, SWRL Net exhibits generalization when introduced to data from other locations, suggesting future development may be composed of training sets from multiple locations.

Open access