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Jinxiao Li, Qing Bao, Yimin Liu, Guoxiong Wu, Lei Wang, Bian He, Xiaocong Wang, Jing Yang, Xiaofei Wu, and Zili Shen

Abstract

There is a distinct gap between tropical cyclone (TC) prediction skill and the societal demand for accurate predictions, especially in the western Pacific (WP) and North Atlantic (NA) basins, where densely populated areas are frequently affected by intense TC events. In this study, seasonal prediction skill for TC activity in the WP and NA of the fully coupled FGOALS-f2 V1.0 dynamical prediction system is evaluated. In total, 36 years of monthly hindcasts from 1981 to 2016 were completed with 24 ensemble members. The FGOALS-f2 V1.0 system has been used for real-time predictions since June 2017 with 35 ensemble members, and has been operationally used in the two operational prediction centers of China. Our evaluation indicates that FGOALS-f2 V1.0 can reasonably reproduce the density of TC genesis locations and tracks in the WP and NA. The model shows significant skill in terms of the TC number correlation in the WP (0.60) and the NA (0.61) from 1981 to 2015; however, the model underestimates accumulated cyclone energy. When the number of ensemble members was increased from 2 to 24, the correlation coefficients clearly increased (from 0.21 to 0.60 in the WP, and from 0.18 to 0.61 in the NA). FGOALS-f2 V1.0 also successfully reproduces the genesis potential index pattern and the relationship between El Niño–Southern Oscillation and TC activity, which is one of the dominant contributors to TC seasonal prediction skill. However, the biases in large-scale factors are barriers to the improvement of the seasonal prediction skill, e.g., larger wind shear, higher relative humidity, and weaker potential intensity of TCs. For real-time predictions in the WP, FGOALS-f2 V1.0 demonstrates a skillful prediction for track density in terms of landfalling TCs, and the model successfully forecasts the correct sign of seasonal anomalies of landfalling TCs for various regions in China.

Open access
Yanshuang Xie, Shaoping Shang, Jinquan Chen, Feng Zhang, Zhigan He, Guomei Wei, Jingyu Wu, Benlu Zhu, and Yindong Zeng

Abstract

Accurate storm surge forecasts provided rapidly could support timely decision-making with consideration of tropical cyclone (TC) forecasting error. This study developed a fast storm surge ensemble prediction method based on TC track probability forecasting and searching optimization of a numerical scenario database (SONSD). In a case study of the Fujian Province coast (China), a storm surge scenario database was established using numerical simulations generated by 93 150 hypothetical TCs. In a GIS-based visualization system, a single surge forecast representing 2562 distinct typhoon tracks and the occurrence probability of overflow of seawalls along the coast could be achieved in 1–2 min. Application to the cases of Typhoon Soudelor (2015) and Typhoon Maria (2018) demonstrated that the proposed method is feasible and effective. Storm surge calculated by SONSD had excellent agreement with numerical model results (i.e., mean MAE and RMSE: 7.1 and 10.7 cm, respectively, correlation coefficient: >0.9). Tide prediction also performed well with MAE/RMSE of 9.7/11.6 cm versus the harmonic tide, and MAE/RMSE of phase prediction for all high waters of 0.25/0.31 h versus observations. The predicted high-water level was satisfactory (MAE of 10.8 cm versus observations) when the forecasted and actual positions of the typhoon were close. When the forecasted typhoon position error was large, the ensemble surge prediction effectively reduced prediction error (i.e., the negative bias of −58.5 cm reduced to −5.2 cm versus observations), which helped avoid missed alert warnings. The proposed method could be applied in other regions to provide rapid and accurate decision-making support for government departments.

Open access
Jörg Steinert, Patrick Tracksdorf, and Dirk Heizenreder

Abstract

The analysis and forecast of precipitation characteristics is a key task for national meteorological services for providing high-quality weather forecasts and warnings. Beside the precipitation amount, the precipitation type is essential to describe and evaluate the recent, ongoing, and future weather situations. This paper introduces a new surface-based hybrid hydrometeor classification algorithm. The presented method combines polarimetric radar observations at radar beam height from the C-band dual-polarization weather radar network of the German Weather Service [Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD)] with corrected thermodynamical profiles of numerical weather prediction (NWP) model output and extrapolates the hydrometeor classes at radar beam height to a height of 2 m above ground level (AGL). The implemented technique parameterizes the microphysical processes in the lower troposphere based on the appropriate thermodynamical profile that the hydrometeors have to pass along their way from the radar beam height to the surface. Due to errors in NWP output, the NWP vertical profiles of temperature and humidity are adjusted by using several types of surface stations with high spatial and temporal resolution. Verification results show considerable improvements in the hydrometeor classification near the ground compared to the radar sweep height. After an additional positive in-house evaluation, the presented method is integrated into DWD’s operational environment. The topic of this paper is to describe the processing steps for the computation of the near-surface precipitation type. In addition, example cases and a verification study complement the explanations.

Open access
Joseph B. Zambon, Ruoying He, John C. Warner, and Christie A. Hegermiller

Abstract

Hurricane Florence (2018) devastated the coastal communities of the Carolinas through heavy rainfall that resulted in massive flooding. Florence was characterized by an abrupt reduction in intensity (Saffir–Simpson category 4 to category 1) just prior to landfall and synoptic-scale interactions that stalled the storm over the Carolinas for several days. We conducted a series of numerical modeling experiments in coupled and uncoupled configurations to examine the impact of sea surface temperature (SST) and ocean waves on storm characteristics. In addition to experiments using a fully coupled atmosphere–ocean–wave model, we introduced the capability of the atmospheric model to modulate wind stress and surface fluxes by ocean waves through data from an uncoupled wave model. We examined these experiments by comparing track, intensity, strength, SST, storm structure, wave height, surface roughness, heat fluxes, and precipitation in order to determine the impacts of resolving ocean conditions with varying degrees of coupling. We found differences in the storm’s intensity and strength, with the best correlation coefficient of intensity (r = 0.89) and strength (r = 0.95) coming from the fully coupled simulations. Further analysis into surface roughness parameterizations added to the atmospheric model revealed differences in the spatial distribution and magnitude of the largest roughness lengths. Adding ocean and wave features to the model further modified the fluxes due to more realistic cooling beneath the storm, which in turn modified the precipitation field. Our experiments highlight significant differences in how air–sea processes impact hurricane modeling. The storm characteristics of track, intensity, strength, and precipitation at landfall are crucial to predictability and forecasting of future landfalling hurricanes.

Open access
Franziska Hellmuth, Bjørg Jenny Kokkvoll Engdahl, Trude Storelvmo, Robert O. David, and Steven J. Cooper

Abstract

In the winter, orographic precipitation falls as snow in the mid- to high latitudes where it causes avalanches, affects local infrastructure, or leads to flooding during the spring thaw. We present a technique to validate operational numerical weather prediction model simulations in complex terrain. The presented verification technique uses a combined retrieval approach to obtain surface snowfall accumulation and vertical profiles of snow water at the Haukeliseter test site, Norway. Both surface observations and vertical profiles of snow are used to validate model simulations from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute’s operational forecast system and two simulations with adjusted cloud microphysics. Retrieved surface snowfall is validated against measurements conducted with a double-fence automated reference gauge (DFAR). In comparison, the optimal estimation snowfall retrieval produces +10.9% more surface snowfall than the DFAR. The predicted surface snowfall from the operational forecast model and two additional simulations with microphysical adjustments (CTRL and ICE-T) are overestimated at the surface with +41.0%, +43.8%, and +59.2%, respectively. Simultaneously, the CTRL and ICE-T simulations underestimate the mean snow water path by −1071.4% and −523.7%, respectively. The study shows that we would reach false conclusions only using surface accumulation or vertical snow water content profiles. These results highlight the need to combine ground-based in situ and vertically profiling remote sensing instruments to identify biases in numerical weather prediction.

Open access
Jing Zhang, Jie Feng, Hong Li, Yuejian Zhu, Xiefei Zhi, and Feng Zhang

Abstract

Operational and research applications generally use the consensus approach for forecasting the track and intensity of tropical cyclones (TCs) due to the spatial displacement of the TC location and structure in ensemble member forecasts. This approach simply averages the location and intensity information for TCs in individual ensemble members, which is distinct from the traditional pointwise arithmetic mean (AM) method for ensemble forecast fields. The consensus approach, despite having improved skills relative to the AM in predicting the TC intensity, cannot provide forecasts of the TC spatial structure. We introduced a unified TC ensemble mean forecast based on the feature-oriented mean (FM) method to overcome the inconsistency between the AM and consensus forecasts. FM spatially aligns the TC-related features in each ensemble field to their geographical mean positions before the amplitude of their features is averaged.

We select 219 TC forecast samples during the summer of 2017 for an overall evaluation of the FM performance. The results show that the TC track consensus forecasts can differ from AM track forecasts by hundreds of kilometers at long lead times. AM also gives a systematic and statistically significant underestimation of the TC intensity compared with the consensus forecast. By contrast, FM has a very similar TC track and intensity forecast skill to the consensus approach. FM can also provide the corresponding ensemble mean forecasts of the TC spatial structure that are significantly more accurate than AM for the low- and upper-level circulation in TCs. The FM method has the potential to serve as a valuable unified ensemble mean approach for the TC prediction.

Open access
Wenwei Xu, Karthik Balaguru, Andrew August, Nicholas Lalo, Nathan Hodas, Mark DeMaria, and David Judi

Abstract

Reducing tropical cyclone (TC) intensity forecast errors is a challenging task that has interested the operational forecasting and research community for decades. To address this, we developed a deep learning (DL)-based multilayer perceptron (MLP) TC intensity prediction model. The model was trained using the global Statistical Hurricane Intensity Prediction Scheme (SHIPS) predictors to forecast the change in TC maximum wind speed for the Atlantic basin. In the first experiment, a 24-h forecast period was considered. To overcome sample size limitations, we adopted a leave one year out (LOYO) testing scheme, where a model is trained using data from all years except one and then evaluated on the year that is left out. When tested on 2010–18 operational data using the LOYO scheme, the MLP outperformed other statistical–dynamical models by 9%–20%. Additional independent tests in 2019 and 2020 were conducted to simulate real-time operational forecasts, where the MLP model again outperformed the statistical–dynamical models by 5%–22% and achieved comparable results as HWFI. The MLP model also correctly predicted more rapid intensification events than all the four operational TC intensity models compared. In the second experiment, we developed a lightweight MLP for 6-h intensity predictions. When coupled with a synthetic TC track model, the lightweight MLP generated realistic TC intensity distribution in the Atlantic basin. Therefore, the MLP-based approach has the potential to improve operational TC intensity forecasts, and will also be a viable option for generating synthetic TCs for climate studies.

Open access
Akira Yamazaki, Takemasa Miyoshi, Jun Inoue, Takeshi Enomoto, and Nobumasa Komori

Abstract

An ensemble-based forecast sensitivity to observations (EFSO) diagnosis has been implemented in an atmospheric general circulation model–ensemble Kalman filter data assimilation system to estimate the impacts of specific observations from the quasi-operational global observing system on weekly short-range forecasts. It was examined whether EFSO reasonably approximates the impacts of a subset of observations from specific geographical locations for 6-h forecasts, and how long the 6-h observation impacts can be retained during the 7-day forecast period. The reference for these forecasts was obtained from 12 data-denial experiments in each of which a subset of three radiosonde observations launched from a geographical location was excluded. The 12 locations were selected from three latitudinal bands comprising (i) four Arctic regions, (ii) four midlatitude regions in the Northern Hemisphere, and (iii) four tropical regions during the Northern Hemisphere winter of 2015/16. The estimated winter-averaged EFSO-derived observation impacts well corresponded to the 6-h observation impacts obtained by the data denials and EFSO could reasonably estimate the observation impacts by the data denials on short-range (from 6 h to 2 day) forecasts. Furthermore, during the medium-range (4–7 day) forecasts, it was found that the Arctic observations tend to seed the broadest impacts and their short-range observation impacts could be projected to beneficial impacts in Arctic and midlatitude North American areas. The midlatitude area was located just downstream of dynamical propagation from the Arctic toward the midlatitudes. Results obtained by repeated Arctic data-denial experiments were found to be generally common to those from the non-repeated experiments.

Open access
Hussen Seid Endris, Linda Hirons, Zewdu Tessema Segele, Masilin Gudoshava, Steve Woolnough, and Guleid A. Artan

Abstract

The skill of precipitation forecasts from global prediction systems has a strong regional and seasonal dependence. Quantifying the skill of models for different regions and time scales is important, not only to improve forecast skill, but to enhance the effective uptake of forecast information. The Subseasonal to Seasonal Prediction project (S2S) database contains near-real-time forecasts and reforecasts from 11 operational centers and provides a great opportunity to evaluate and compare the skill of operational S2S systems. This study evaluates the skill of these state-of-the-art global prediction systems in predicting monthly precipitation over the Greater Horn of Africa. This comprehensive evaluation was performed using deterministic and probabilistic forecast verification metrics. Results from the analysis showed that the prediction skill varies with months and region. Generally, the models show high prediction skill during the start of the rainfall season in March and lower prediction skill during the peak of the rainfall in April. ECCC, ECMWF, KMA, NCEP, and UKMO show better prediction skill over the region for most of the months compared with the rest of the models. Conversely, BoM, CMA, HMCR, and ISAC show poor prediction skill over the region. Overall, the ECMWF model performs best over the region among the 11 models analyzed. Importantly, this study serves as a baseline skill assessment with the findings helping to inform how a subset of models could be selected to construct an objectively consolidated multimodel ensemble of S2S forecast products for the Greater Horn of Africa region, as recommended by the World Meteorological Organization.

Open access
Eva-Maria Walz, Marlon Maranan, Roderick van der Linden, Andreas H. Fink, and Peter Knippertz

Abstract

Current numerical weather prediction models show limited skill in predicting low-latitude precipitation. To aid future improvements, be it with better dynamical or statistical models, we propose a well-defined benchmark forecast. We use the arguably best available high-resolution, gauge-calibrated, gridded precipitation product, the Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) “final run” in a ±15-day window around the date of interest to build an empirical climatological ensemble forecast. This window size is an optimal compromise between statistical robustness and flexibility to represent seasonal changes. We refer to this benchmark as extended probabilistic climatology (EPC) and compute it on a 0.1° × 0.1° grid for 40°S–40°N and the period 2001–19. To reduce and standardize information, a mixed Bernoulli–Gamma distribution is fitted to the empirical EPC, which hardly affects predictive performance. The EPC is then compared to 1-day ensemble predictions from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) using standard verification scores. With respect to rainfall amount, ECMWF performs only slightly better than EPS over most of the low latitudes and worse over high-mountain and dry oceanic areas as well as over tropical Africa, where the lack of skill is also evident in independent station data. For rainfall occurrence, EPC is superior over most oceanic, coastal, and mountain regions, although the better potential predictive ability of ECMWF indicates that this is mostly due to calibration problems. To encourage the use of the new benchmark, we provide the data, scripts, and an interactive web tool to the scientific community.

Open access