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Benedikt Schulz
and
Sebastian Lerch

Abstract

Postprocessing ensemble weather predictions to correct systematic errors has become a standard practice in research and operations. However, only a few recent studies have focused on ensemble postprocessing of wind gust forecasts, despite its importance for severe weather warnings. Here, we provide a comprehensive review and systematic comparison of eight statistical and machine learning methods for probabilistic wind gust forecasting via ensemble postprocessing that can be divided in three groups: state-of-the-art postprocessing techniques from statistics [ensemble model output statistics (EMOS), member-by-member postprocessing, isotonic distributional regression], established machine learning methods (gradient-boosting extended EMOS, quantile regression forests), and neural network–based approaches (distributional regression network, Bernstein quantile network, histogram estimation network). The methods are systematically compared using 6 years of data from a high-resolution, convection-permitting ensemble prediction system that was run operationally at the German weather service, and hourly observations at 175 surface weather stations in Germany. While all postprocessing methods yield calibrated forecasts and are able to correct the systematic errors of the raw ensemble predictions, incorporating information from additional meteorological predictor variables beyond wind gusts leads to significant improvements in forecast skill. In particular, we propose a flexible framework of locally adaptive neural networks with different probabilistic forecast types as output, which not only significantly outperform all benchmark postprocessing methods but also learn physically consistent relations associated with the diurnal cycle, especially the evening transition of the planetary boundary layer.

Open access
Y. Ruckstuhl
and
T. Janjić

Abstract

We investigate the feasibility of addressing model error by perturbing and estimating uncertain static model parameters using the localized ensemble transform Kalman filter. In particular we use the augmented state approach, where parameters are updated by observations via their correlation with observed state variables. This online approach offers a flexible, yet consistent way to better fit model variables affected by the chosen parameters to observations, while ensuring feasible model states. We show in a nearly operational convection-permitting configuration that the prediction of clouds and precipitation with the COSMO-DE model is improved if the two-dimensional roughness length parameter is estimated with the augmented state approach. Here, the targeted model error is the roughness length itself and the surface fluxes, which influence the initiation of convection. At analysis time, Gaussian noise with a specified correlation matrix is added to the roughness length to regulate the parameter spread. In the northern part of the COSMO-DE domain, where the terrain is mostly flat and assimilated surface wind measurements are dense, estimating the roughness length led to improved forecasts of up to 6 h of clouds and precipitation. In the southern part of the domain, the parameter estimation was detrimental unless the correlation length scale of the Gaussian noise that is added to the roughness length is increased. The impact of the parameter estimation was found to be larger when synoptic forcing is weak and the model output is more sensitive to the roughness length.

Open access
Tobias Necker
,
Martin Weissmann
,
Yvonne Ruckstuhl
,
Jeffrey Anderson
, and
Takemasa Miyoshi

Abstract

State-of-the-art ensemble prediction systems usually provide ensembles with only 20–250 members for estimating the uncertainty of the forecast and its spatial and spatiotemporal covariance. Given that the degrees of freedom of atmospheric models are several magnitudes higher, the estimates are therefore substantially affected by sampling errors. For error covariances, spurious correlations lead to random sampling errors, but also a systematic overestimation of the correlation. A common approach to mitigate the impact of sampling errors for data assimilation is to localize correlations. However, this is a challenging task given that physical correlations in the atmosphere can extend over long distances. Besides data assimilation, sampling errors pose an issue for the investigation of spatiotemporal correlations using ensemble sensitivity analysis. Our study evaluates a statistical approach for correcting sampling errors. The applied sampling error correction is a lookup table–based approach and therefore computationally very efficient. We show that this approach substantially improves both the estimates of spatial correlations for data assimilation as well as spatiotemporal correlations for ensemble sensitivity analysis. The evaluation is performed using the first convective-scale 1000-member ensemble simulation for central Europe. Correlations of the 1000-member ensemble forecast serve as truth to assess the performance of the sampling error correction for smaller subsets of the full ensemble. The sampling error correction strongly reduced both random and systematic errors for all evaluated variables, ensemble sizes, and lead times.

Free access
Matthias Schindler
,
Martin Weissmann
,
Andreas Schäfler
, and
Gabor Radnoti

Abstract

Dropsonde observations from three research aircraft in the North Atlantic region, as well as several hundred additionally launched radiosondes over Canada and Europe, were collected during the international North Atlantic Waveguide and Downstream Impact Experiment (NAWDEX) in autumn 2016. In addition, over 1000 dropsondes were deployed during NOAA’s Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology (SHOUT) and Reconnaissance missions in the west Atlantic basin, supplementing the conventional observing network for several intensive observation periods. This unique dataset was assimilated within the framework of cycled data denial experiments for a 1-month period performed with the global model of the ECMWF. Results show a slightly reduced mean forecast error (1%–3%) over the northern Atlantic and Europe by assimilating these additional observations, with the most prominent error reductions being linked to Tropical Storm Karl, Cyclones Matthew and Nicole, and their subsequent interaction with the midlatitude waveguide. The evaluation of Forecast Sensitivity to Observation Impact (FSOI) indicates that the largest impact is due to dropsondes near tropical storms and cyclones, followed by dropsondes over the northern Atlantic and additional Canadian radiosondes. Additional radiosondes over Europe showed a comparatively small beneficial impact.

Free access
Florian Pantillon
,
Bianca Adler
,
Ulrich Corsmeier
,
Peter Knippertz
,
Andreas Wieser
, and
Akio Hansen

Abstract

Damaging gusts in windstorms are represented by crude subgrid-scale parameterizations in today’s weather and climate models. This limitation motivated the Wind and Storms Experiment (WASTEX) in winter 2016–17 in the Upper Rhine Valley over southwestern Germany. Gusts recorded at an instrumented tower during the passage of extratropical cyclone “Thomas” on 23 February 2017 are investigated based on measurements of radial wind with ≈70-m along-beam spacing from a fast-scanning Doppler lidar and realistic large-eddy simulations with grid spacings down to 78 m using the Icosahedral Nonhydrostatic model. Four wind peaks occur due to the storm onset, the cold front, a precipitation line, and isolated showers. The first peak is related to a sudden drop in dewpoint and results from the downward mixing of a low-level jet and a dry layer within the warm sector characterized by extremely high temperatures for the season. While operational convection-permitting forecasts poorly predict the storm onset overall, a successful ensemble member highlights the role of upstream orography. Lidar observations reveal the presence of long-lasting wind structures that result from a combination of convection- and shear-driven instability. Large-eddy simulations contain structures elongated in the wind direction that are qualitatively similar but too coarse compared to the observed ones. Their size is found to exceed the effective model resolution by one order of magnitude due to their elongation. These results emphasize the need for subkilometer-scale measuring and modeling systems to improve the representation of gusts in windstorms.

Open access
Kevin Bachmann
,
Christian Keil
,
George C. Craig
,
Martin Weissmann
, and
Christian A. Welzbacher

Abstract

We investigate the practical predictability limits of deep convection in a state-of-the-art, high-resolution, limited-area ensemble prediction system. A combination of sophisticated predictability measures, namely, believable and decorrelation scale, are applied to determine the predictable scales of short-term forecasts in a hierarchy of model configurations. First, we consider an idealized perfect model setup that includes both small-scale and synoptic-scale perturbations. We find increased predictability in the presence of orography and a strongly beneficial impact of radar data assimilation, which extends the forecast horizon by up to 6 h. Second, we examine realistic COSMO-KENDA simulations, including assimilation of radar and conventional data and a representation of model errors, for a convectively active two-week summer period over Germany. The results confirm increased predictability in orographic regions. We find that both latent heat nudging and ensemble Kalman filter assimilation of radar data lead to increased forecast skill, but the impact is smaller than in the idealized experiments. This highlights the need to assimilate spatially and temporally dense data, but also indicates room for further improvement. Finally, the examination of operational COSMO-DE-EPS ensemble forecasts for three summer periods confirms the beneficial impact of orography in a statistical sense and also reveals increased predictability in weather regimes controlled by synoptic forcing, as defined by the convective adjustment time scale.

Free access
Jeremy D. Berman
and
Ryan D. Torn

Abstract

Perturbations to the potential vorticity (PV) waveguide, which can result from latent heat release within the warm conveyor belt (WCB) of midlatitude cyclones, can lead to the downstream radiation of Rossby waves, and in turn high-impact weather events. Previous studies have hypothesized that forecast uncertainty associated with diabatic heating in WCBs can result in large downstream forecast variability; however, these studies have not established a direct connection between the two. This study evaluates the potential impact of latent heating variability in the WCB on subsequent downstream forecasts by applying the ensemble-based sensitivity method to European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) ensemble forecasts of a cyclogenesis event over the North Atlantic. For this case, ensemble members with a more amplified ridge are associated with greater negative PV advection by the irrotational wind, which is associated with stronger lower-tropospheric southerly moisture transport east of the upstream cyclone in the WCB. This transport is sensitive to the pressure trough to the south of the cyclone along the cold front, which in turn is modulated by earlier differences in the motion of the air masses on either side of the front. The position of the cold air behind the front is modulated by upstream tropopause-based PV anomalies, such that a deeper pressure trough is associated with a more progressive flow pattern, originating from Rossby wave breaking over the North Pacific. Overall, these results suggest that more accurate forecasts of upstream PV anomalies and WCBs may reduce forecast uncertainty in the downstream waveguide.

Free access
Mirjam Hirt
,
Stephan Rasp
,
Ulrich Blahak
, and
George C. Craig

Abstract

Kilometer-scale models allow for an explicit simulation of deep convective overturning but many subgrid processes that are crucial for convective initiation are still poorly represented. This leads to biases such as insufficient convection triggering and late peak of summertime convection. A physically based stochastic perturbation scheme (PSP) for subgrid processes has been proposed (Kober and Craig) that targets the coupling between subgrid turbulence and resolved convection. The first part of this study presents four modifications to this PSP scheme for subgrid turbulence: an autoregressive, continuously evolving random field; a limitation of the perturbations to the boundary layer that removes artificial convection at night; a mask that turns off perturbations in precipitating columns to retain coherent structures; and nondivergent wind perturbations that drastically increase the effectiveness of the vertical velocity perturbations. In a revised version, PSP2, the combined modifications retain the physically based coupling to the boundary layer scheme of the original scheme while removing undesirable side effects. This has the potential to improve predictions of convective initiation in kilometer-scale models while minimizing other biases. The second part of the study focuses on perturbations to account for convective initiation by subgrid orography. Here the mechanical lifting effect is modeled by introducing vertical and horizontal wind perturbations of an orographically induced gravity wave. The resulting perturbations lead to enhanced convective initiation over mountainous terrain. However, the total benefit of this scheme is unclear and we do not adopt the scheme in our revised configuration.

Free access
Christian Euler
,
Michael Riemer
,
Tobias Kremer
, and
Elmar Schömer

Abstract

Extratropical transition (ET) of tropical cyclones involves distinct changes of the cyclone’s structure that are not yet well understood. This study presents for the first time a comprehensive Lagrangian description of structure change near the inner core. A large sample of trajectories is computed from a convection-permitting numerical simulation of the ET of Tropical Storm Karl (2016). Three main airstreams are considered: those associated with the inner-core convection, inner-core descent, and the developing warm conveyor belt. Analysis of these airstreams is performed both in thermodynamic and physical space. Prior to ET, Karl is embedded in weak vertical wind shear and its intensity is impeded by excessive detrainment from the inner-core convection. At the start of ET, vertical shear increases and Karl intensifies, which is attributable to reduced detrainment and thus to the formation of a well-defined outflow layer. During ET, the thermodynamic changes of the environment impact Karl’s inner-core convection predominantly by a decrease of θe values in the inflow layer. Notably, notwithstanding Karl’s weak intensity, its inner core acts as a “containment vessel” that transports high-θe air into the increasingly hostile environment. Inner-core descent has two origins: (i) mostly from upshear-left above 4-km height in the environment and (ii) boundary layer air that ascends in the inner core first and then descends, performing rollercoaster-like trajectories. At the end of the tropical phase of ET, the developing warm conveyor belt comprises air masses from several different source regions, and only partly from the cyclone’s developing warm sector, as expected for extratropical cyclones.

Open access
Marlene Baumgart
,
Paolo Ghinassi
,
Volkmar Wirth
,
Tobias Selz
,
George C. Craig
, and
Michael Riemer

Abstract

Two diagnostics based on potential vorticity and the envelope of Rossby waves are used to investigate upscale error growth from a dynamical perspective. The diagnostics are applied to several cases of global, real-case ensemble simulations, in which the only difference between the ensemble members lies in the random seed of the stochastic convection scheme. Based on a tendency equation for the enstrophy error, the relative importance of individual processes to enstrophy-error growth near the tropopause is quantified. After the enstrophy error is saturated on the synoptic scale, the envelope diagnostic is used to investigate error growth up to the planetary scale. The diagnostics reveal distinct stages of the error growth: in the first 12 h, error growth is dominated by differences in the convection scheme. Differences in the upper-tropospheric divergent wind then project these diabatic errors into the tropopause region (day 0.5–2). The subsequent error growth (day 2–14.5) is governed by differences in the nonlinear near-tropopause dynamics. A fourth stage of the error growth is found up to 18 days when the envelope diagnostic indicates error growth from the synoptic up to the planetary scale. Previous ideas of the multiscale nature of upscale error growth are confirmed in general. However, a novel interpretation of the governing processes is provided. The insight obtained into the dynamics of upscale error growth may help to design representations of uncertainty in operational forecast models and to identify atmospheric conditions that are intrinsically prone to large error amplification.

Open access