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Satoru Yoshida
,
Tetsu Sakai
,
Tomohiro Nagai
,
Yasutaka Ikuta
,
Teruyuki Kato
,
Koichi Shiraishi
,
Ryohei Kato
, and
Hiromu Seko

Abstract

We conducted field observations using two water vapor Raman lidars (RLs) in Kyushu, Japan, to clarify the characteristics of a moist low-level jet (MLLJ), which plays a fundamental role in the formation and maintenance of mesoscale convective systems (MCSs). The two RLs observed the inside and outside of an MLLJ, providing moisture to an MCS with local heavy precipitation on 9 July 2021. Our observations revealed that the MLLJ contained large amounts of moisture below the convective mixing layer height of 1.6 km. The large amount of moisture in the MLLJ might be intensified by low-level convergences and/or water vapor buoyancy facilitated by strong horizontal wind. We conducted four data assimilation experiments: CNTL that assimilated Japan Meteorological Agency operational observation data and three other experiments that ingested the lidar-derived vertical moisture profiles as well as the operational observation data. The experiments assimilating lidar-derived vertical moisture profiles caused intensification and southwestward extensions of the low-level convergence zone, resulting in local heavy precipitation at lower latitudes in experiments assimilating lidar-derived moisture profiles than in CNTL. All three experiments ingesting vertical moisture profiles generally produced better 9-h precipitation forecasts than CNTL, implying that the assimilation of vertical moisture profiles could be well suited for numerical weather prediction of local heavy precipitation. Moreover, the experiment assimilating both of the two RL sites’ data reproduced better forecast fields than experiments assimilating a single RL site’s data, implying that data assimilation of vertical moisture profiles at multiple RL sites enables us to improve initial conditions compared to a single RL site.

Significance Statement

Moist low-level jets (MLLJs) are moisture-rich airflows in the low-level atmosphere that play an important role in developing mesoscale convective systems and local heavy rainfall. To better understand the mechanisms affecting the development of local heavy rainfall events and to improve our ability to forecast them, studying the moisture structures in MLLJs is important. We succeeded in observing an MLLJ in western Japan using water vapor Raman lidars (RLs), which obtained vertical moisture profiles, and revealed details of vertical moisture structures in the MLLJ. We also performed data assimilation experiments to examine the impact of assimilating vertical moisture profiles observed by the RLs. The results showed that the assimilation of the moisture data improved the forecasting of local heavy rainfall.

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Joshua Chun Kwang Lee
,
Javier Amezcua
, and
Ross Noel Bannister

Abstract

Two aspects of ensemble localization for data assimilation are explored using the simplified nonhydrostatic ABC model in a tropical setting. The first aspect (i) is the ability to prescribe different localization length scales for different variables (variable-dependent localization). The second aspect (ii) is the ability to control (i.e., to knock out by localization) multivariate error covariances (selective multivariate localization). These aspects are explored in order to shed light on the cross-covariances that are important in the tropics and to help determine the most appropriate localization configuration for a tropical ensemble–variational (EnVar) data assimilation system. Two localization schemes are implemented within the EnVar framework to achieve (i) and (ii). One is called the isolated variable-dependent localization (IVDL) scheme and the other is called the symmetric variable-dependent localization (SVDL) scheme. Multicycle observation system simulation experiments are conducted using IVDL or SVDL mainly with a 100-member ensemble, although other ensemble sizes are studied (between 10 and 1000 members). The results reveal that selective multivariate localization can reduce the cycle-averaged root-mean-square error (RMSE) in the experiments when cross-covariances associated with hydrostatic balance are retained and when zonal wind/mass error cross-covariances are knocked out. When variable-dependent horizontal and vertical localization are incrementally introduced, the cycle-averaged RMSE is further reduced. Overall, the best performing experiment using both variable-dependent and selective multivariate localization leads to a 3%–4% reduction in cycle-averaged RMSE compared to the traditional EnVar experiment. These results may inform the possible improvements to existing tropical numerical weather prediction systems that use EnVar data assimilation.

Open access
Haiqin Chen
,
Jidong Gao
,
Tao Sun
,
Yaodeng Chen
,
Yunheng Wang
, and
Jacob T. Carlin

Abstract

The differential reflectivity (Z DR) column is a notable polarimetric signature related to updrafts in deep moist convection. In this study, pseudo–water vapor (qυ ) observations are retrieved from observed Z DR columns under the assumption that humidity is saturated within the convection where Z DR columns are detected, and are then assimilated within the 3DVar framework. The impacts of assimilating pseudo-qυ observations from Z DR columns on short-term severe weather prediction are first evaluated for a squall-line case. Radar data analysis indicates that the Z DR columns are mainly located on the inflow side of the high-reflectivity region. Assimilation of the pseudo-qυ observations leads to an enhancement of qυ within the convection, while concurrently reducing humidity in no-rain areas. Sensitivity experiments indicate that a tuned smaller observation error and a shorter horizontal decorrelation scale are optimal for a better assimilation of pseudo-qυ from Z DR columns, resulting in more stable rain rates during short-term forecasts. Additionally, a 15-min cycling assimilation frequency yields the best performance, providing the most accurate reflectivity forecast in terms of both location and intensity. Analysis of thermodynamic fields reveal that assimilating Z DR columns provides more favorable initial conditions for sustaining convection, including sustainable moisture condition, a strong cold pool, and divergent winds near the surface, consequently enhancing reflectivity and precipitation. With the optimal configuration determined from the sensitivity tests, a quantitative evaluation further demonstrates that assimilating the pseudo-qυ observations from Z DR columns using the 3DVar method can improve the 0–3-h reflectivity and accumulated precipitation predictions of convective storms.

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Paolo Giani
and
Paola Crippa

Abstract

We present a new ensemble of 36 numerical experiments aimed at comprehensively gauging the sensitivity of nested large-eddy simulations (LES) driven by large-scale dynamics. Specifically, we explore 36 multiscale configurations of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model to simulate the boundary layer flow over the complex topography at the Perdigão field site, with five nested domains discretized at horizontal resolutions ranging from 11.25 km to 30 m. Each ensemble member has a unique combination of the following input factors: (i) large-scale initial and boundary conditions, (ii) subgrid turbulence modeling in the gray zone of turbulence, (iii) subgrid-scale (SGS) models in LES, and (iv) topography and land-cover datasets. We probe their relative importance for LES calculations of velocity, temperature, and moisture fields. Variance decomposition analysis unravels large sensitivities to topography and land-use datasets and very weak sensitivity to the LES SGS model. Discrepancies within ensemble members can be as large as 2.5 m s−1 for the time-averaged near-surface wind speed on the ridge and as large as 10 m s−1 without time averaging. At specific time points, a large fraction of this sensitivity can be explained by the different turbulence models in the gray zone domains. We implement a horizontal momentum and moisture budget routine in WRF to further elucidate the mechanisms behind the observed sensitivity, paving the way for an increased understanding of the tangible effects of the gray zone of turbulence problem.

Significance Statement

Several science and engineering applications, including wind turbine siting and operations, weather prediction, and downscaling of climate projections, call for high-resolution numerical simulations of the lowest part of the atmosphere. Recent studies have highlighted that such high-resolution simulations, coupled with large-scale models, are challenging and require several important assumptions. With a new set of numerical experiments, we evaluate and compare the significance of different assumptions and outstanding challenges in multiscale modeling (i.e., coupling large-scale models and high-resolution atmospheric simulations). The ultimate goal of this analysis is to put each individual assumption into the wider perspective of a realistic problem and quantify its relative importance compared to other important modeling choices.

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Ingo Richter
,
Jayanthi V. Ratnam
,
Patrick Martineau
,
Pascal Oettli
,
Takeshi Doi
,
Tomomichi Ogata
,
Takahito Kataoka
, and
François Counillon

Abstract

Seasonal prediction systems are subject to systematic errors, including those introduced during the initialization procedure, that may degrade the forecast skill. Here we use a novel statistical postprocessing correction scheme that is based on canonical correlation analysis (CCA) to relate errors in ocean temperature arising during initialization with errors in the predicted sea surface temperature fields at 1–12-month lead time. In addition, the scheme uses CCA of simultaneous SST fields from the prediction and corresponding observations to correct pattern errors. Finally, simple scaling is used to mitigate systematic location and phasing errors as a function of lead time and calendar month. Applying this scheme to an ensemble of seven seasonal prediction models suggests that moderate improvement of prediction skill is achievable in the tropical Atlantic and, to a lesser extent, in the tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean. The scheme possesses several adjustable parameters, including the number of CCA modes retained, and the regions of the left and right CCA patterns. These parameters are selected using a simple tuning procedure based on the average of four skill metrics. The results of the present study indicate that errors in ocean temperature fields due to imperfect initialization and SST variability errors can have a sizable negative impact on SST prediction skill. Further development of prediction systems may be able to remedy these impacts to some extent.

Significance Statement

The prediction of year-to-year climate variability patterns, such as El Niño, offers potential benefits to society by aiding mitigation and adaptation efforts. Current prediction systems, however, may still have substantial room for improvement due to systematic model errors and due to imperfect initialization of the oceanic state at the start of predictions. Here we develop a statistical correction scheme to improve prediction skill after forecasts have been completed. The scheme shows some moderate success in improving the skill for predicting El Niño and similar climate patterns in seven prediction systems. Our results not only indicate a potential for improving prediction skill after the fact but also point to the importance of improving the way prediction systems are initialized.

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Yasutaka Ikuta
and
Udai Shimada

Abstract

A few high-wind observations have been obtained from satellites over the ocean around tropical cyclones (TCs), but the impact of data assimilation of such observations over the sea on forecasting has not been clear. The spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) provides high-resolution and wide-area ocean surface wind speed data around the center of a TC. In this study, the impact of data assimilation of the ocean surface wind speed of SAR (OWSAR) on regional model forecasts was investigated. The assimilated data were estimated from SAR on board Sentinel-1 and RADARSAT-2. The bias of OWSAR depends on wind speed, the observation error variance depends on wind speed and incidence angle, and the spatial observation error correlation depends on the incidence angle. The observed OWSAR is screened using the variational quality control method with the Huber norm. In the case of Typhoon Hagibis (2019), OWSAR assimilation modified the TC low-level inflow, which also modified the TC upper-level outflow. The propagation of this OWSAR assimilation effect from the surface to the upper troposphere was given by a four-dimensional variational method that searches for the optimal solution within strong constraints on the time evolution of the forecast model. Statistical validation confirmed that errors in the TC intensity forecast decreased over lead times of 15 h, but this was not statistically significant. The validation using wind profiler observations showed that OWSAR assimilation significantly improved the accuracy of wind speed predictions from the middle to the upper level of the troposphere.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the impact of the assimilation of ocean surface wind speed by synthetic aperture radar (SAR) on regional model predictions. In the case of tropical cyclones, ocean surface wind speed assimilation modified inflows in the lower layer and outflows in the upper layer. The results indicate that the SAR assimilation improves the accuracy of wind speed forecasts in the middle to upper troposphere.

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Maziar Bani Shahabadi
and
Mark Buehner

Abstract

Cloud-affected microwave humidity sounding radiances were excluded from assimilation in the hybrid four-dimensional ensemble–variational (4D-EnVar) system of the Global Deterministic Prediction System (GDPS) at Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). This was due to the inability of the current radiative transfer model to consider the scattering effect from frozen hydrometeors at these frequencies. In addition to upgrading the observation operator to RTTOV-SCATT, quality control, bias correction, and 4D-EnVar assimilation components are modified to perform all-sky assimilation of Microwave Humidity Sounder (MHS) channel 2–5 observations over ocean in the GDPS. The input profiles to RTTOV-SCATT are extended to include liquid cloud, ice cloud, and cloud fraction profiles for the simulation and assimilation of MHS observations over water. There is a maximum (35%) increase in the number of channel 2 assimilated MHS observations with smaller increases for channels 3–5 in the all-sky experiment compared to the clear-sky experiment, mostly because of newly assimilated cloud-affected observations. The standard deviation (stddev) of difference between the observed global positioning system radio occultation (GPSRO) refractivity observations and the corresponding simulated values using the background state was reduced in the lower troposphere below 9 km in the all-sky experiment. Verifications of forecasts against the radiosonde observations show statistically significant reductions of 1% in the stddev of error for geopotential height, temperature, and horizontal wind for the all-sky experiment between 72- and 120-h forecast ranges in the troposphere in the Northern Hemisphere domain. Verifications of forecasts against ECMWF analyses also show small improvements in the zonal mean of stddev of error for temperature and horizontal wind for the all-sky experiment between 72- and 120-h forecast ranges. This work was planned for operational implementation in the GDPS in fall 2023.

Open access
Austin G. Clark
and
Daniel J. Cecil

Abstract

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) was used to investigate interannual variability of lightning from 1998 to 2014 within the 38°S–38°N range. Previous studies have indicated that the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon is one significant contributor to interannual lightning variability, potentially the dominant mechanism on the global scale. This period of 16 years contained four warm- (El Niño), eight cold- (La Niña), and four neutral-phase ENSO years based on the oceanic Niño index. Large magnitude lightning anomalies were found during the warm phase of ENSO, with mean warm-phase anomalies of >10 flashes (1000 km)−2 min−1 in north-central Africa and Argentina. This includes a +35 flashes (1000 km)−2 min−1 anomaly in Argentina during the 2009 El Niño. In general, large-scale anomalies of thermodynamic properties and upper-atmospheric vertical motion coincided with the lightning anomalies observed in both Africa and South America. The anomaly over north-central Africa, however, was characterized by a 6-week shift in the annual lightning maximum with the warm phase, a result of the more complex environmental response to ENSO over the Sahel. The most consistent ENSO anomalies with appreciable lightning were found in southeastern Africa, northwestern Brazil, central Mexico, and the southern Red Sea. Of these, all but the Mexico region had enhanced lightning with the cold phase and suppressed lightning with the warm phase.

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Michael L. Wasserstein
and
W. James Steenburgh

Abstract

Heavy orographic snowfall can disrupt transportation and threaten lives and property in mountainous regions but benefits water resources, winter sports, and tourism. Little Cottonwood Canyon (LCC) in northern Utah’s Wasatch Range is one of the snowiest locations in the interior western United States and frequently observes orographic snowfall extremes with threats to transportation, structures, and public safety due to storm-related avalanche hazards. Using manual new-snow and liquid precipitation equivalent (LPE) observations, ERA5 reanalyses, and operational radar data, this paper examines the characteristics of cool-season (October–April) 12-h snowfall extremes in upper LCC. The 12-h extremes, defined based on either 95th percentile new snow or LPE, occur for a wide range of crest-level flow directions. The distribution of LPE extremes is bimodal with maxima for south-southwest or north-northwest flow, whereas new-snow extremes occur most frequently during west-northwest flow, which features colder storms with higher snow-to-liquid ratios. Both snowfall and LPE extremes are produced by diverse synoptic patterns, including inland-penetrating or decaying atmospheric rivers from the south through northwest that avoid the southern high Sierra Nevada, frontal systems, post-cold-frontal northwesterly flow, south-southwesterly cold-core flow, and closed low pressure systems. Although often associated with heavy precipitation in other mountainous regions, the linkages between local integrated water vapor transport (IVT) and orographic precipitation extremes in LCC are relatively weak, and during post-cold-frontal northwesterly flow, highly localized and intense snowfall can occur despite low IVT. These results illustrate the remarkable diversity of storm characteristics producing orographic snowfall extremes at this interior continental mountain location.

Significance Statement

Little Cottonwood Canyon in northern Utah’s central Wasatch Range frequently experiences extreme snowfall events that pose threats to lives and property. In this study, we illustrate the large diversity of storm characteristics that produce this extreme snowfall. Meteorologists commonly use the amount of water vapor transport in the atmosphere to predict heavy mountain precipitation, but that metric has limited utility in Little Cottonwood Canyon where heavy snowfall can occur with lower values of such transport. Our results can aid weather forecasting in the central Wasatch Range and have implications for understanding precipitation processes in mountain ranges throughout the world.

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Jia Liang
,
Liguang Wu
,
Chunyi Xiang
, and
Qingyuan Liu

Abstract

Typhoon In-fa (2021) experienced a weakening process on 22–23 July in a large-scale environment favorable for tropical cyclone (TC) intensification. All operational forecasts and the Global Forecast System (GFS) forecasts predicted a continuous intensification, which deviated significantly from the observation. The analysis of the GFS analysis product shows a coalescence process of Typhoon In-fa with an intraseasonal monsoon gyre during the period, resulting in an increased outer size of In-fa and well-organized convection to the east, which prevented transporting the mass and moisture into the inner-core area of In-fa, thus leading to the weakening. Nevertheless, this essential coalescence process was not captured in the GFS forecasts due to the poor prediction of the monsoon gyre. The analysis shows that the forecasted monsoon gyre on 20–22 July had an eastward location at 72- and 96-h lead times and a weaker intensity and outer circulation at 24- and 48-h lead times, leading to the forecasted TC always moving in its north and west, in agreement with numerical simulation results that the monsoon gyre with a weaker outer circulation is not conducive to the coalescence. Thus, the deep convection to the east of In-fa preventing the inward transportation of mass and moisture did not develop in the GFS forecasts. As a result, the GFS forecasted that In-fa would continue intensifying in a favorable environment on 22–23 July. The findings of this study would prompt forecasters to pay attention to the prediction of the monsoon gyre and its influence on the TC intensity in forecast products available to them.

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