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Anna Agustí-Panareda, Anton Beljaars, Carla Cardinali, Iliana Genkova, and Chris Thorncroft

Abstract

The field experiment of the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) project during the 2006 wet monsoon season provided an unprecedented amount of radiosonde/dropsonde data over the West African region. This paper explores the usage and impacts of this invaluable dataset in the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts analyses and forecasts. These soundings are the only source of data that can provide 3D information on the thermodynamic and dynamic structures of the lower troposphere over continental West Africa. They are particularly important for the Sahel region located between 12° and 20°N, which is characterized by large gradients in temperature and moisture in the lower troposphere. An assimilation experiment comparison between the pre-AMMA and AMMA radiosonde networks shows that the extra AMMA soundings have a significant analysis impact on the low-level temperature over the Sahel and on the structure of the African easterly jet. However, the impacts of the extra AMMA data on the forecast disappear after 24 h. The soundings reveal large model biases in boundary layer temperature over the northern and eastern Sahel, which are consistent with the well-known model biases in cloud, rainfall, and radiation. Large analysis increments in temperature lead to increments in divergence and subsidence, which act to suppress convection. Thus, the analysis increments appear to have an undesirable feedback on the cloud and temperature model biases. The impact of the AMMA soundings on the African easterly jet is to enhance and extend the jet streak to 15°E, that is, toward the eastern part of the Sahel. No observations are assimilated east of 15°E at the level of the African easterly jet to support the jet enhancement farther east. Comparisons with independent atmospheric cloud motion vectors indicate that the African easterly jet in the analysis is too weak over this data-sparse region. This could have implications for the development of African easterly waves in the model forecast. Further experimentation by assimilating atmospheric motion vectors—currently not used—could address this problem.

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Sen Chiao and Gregory S. Jenkins

Abstract

Mesoscale model forecasts were carried out beginning at 0000 UTC 19 August for simulating Tropical Disturbance 4, which was named Tropical Storm Debby on 22 August 2006. The Weather Research and Forecasting model, with 25-km grid spacing and an inner nested domain of 5-km grid spacing, was used. The development of a small closed vortex at approximately 0600 UTC 20 August 2006 at 850 hPa was found off the coast of Guinea in agreement with satellite images in the 5-km simulation. Intense convection offshore and over the Guinea Highlands during the morning of 20 August 2006 led to the production of a vortex formation by 1400 UTC at 700 hPa. Sensitivity tests show that the Guinea Highlands play an important role in modulating the impinging westerly flow, in which low-level flow deflections (i.e., northward turning) enhance the cyclonic circulation of the vortex formation. Yet, the moist air can be transported by the northward deflection flow from lower latitudes to support the development of mesoscale convective systems (MCSs). Although the model forecast is not perfect, it demonstrates the predictability of the formation and development of the tropical disturbance associated with the Guinea Highlands.

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Adrian M. Tompkins and Laura Feudale

Abstract

The West Africa monsoon precipitation of the ECMWF operational Seasonal Forecast System (SYS3) is evaluated at a lead time of 2–4 months in a 49-yr hindcast dataset, with special attention paid to the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) special observation period during 2006. In both the climatology and the year 2006 the SYS3 reproduces the progression of the West Africa monsoon but with a number of differences, most notably a southerly shift of the precipitation in the main monsoon months of July and August and the lack of preonset rainfall suppression and sudden onset jump. The model skill at predicting summer monsoon rainfall anomalies has increased in recent years indicating improvements in the ocean analysis since the 1990s.

Examination of other model fields shows a widespread warm sea surface temperature (SST) bias exceeding 1.5 K in the Gulf of Guinea throughout the monsoon months in addition to a cold bias in the North Atlantic, which would both tend to enhance rainfall over the Gulf of Guinea coast at the expense of the monsoon rainfall over the Sahel. Seasonal forecasts were repeated for 2006 using the same release of the atmospheric forecast model forced by observed SSTs, and the monsoon rainfall reverts to its observed position, indicating the importance of the SST biases.

A lack of stratocumulus off the west coast of Africa in SYS3 was hypothesized as a possible cause of the systematic rain and SST biases. Two more sets of ensembles were thus conducted with atmospheric model upgrades designed to tackle radiation, deep convection, and turbulence deficiencies. While these enhancements improve the simulation of stratocumulus significantly, it is found that the improvement in the warm SST bias is limited in scope to the southern cold tongue region. In contrast, the changes to the representation of convection cause an increase in surface downwelling shortwave radiation that, combined with latent heat flux changes associated with the wind stress field, increases the SST warm bias on and to the north of the equator. Thus, while the precipitation shortfall in the Sahel is reduced with the new physics, the overestimated rainfall of SYS3 in the coastal region is further enhanced, degrading the model systematic errors overall in the West Africa region. Finally, the difference in the systematic biases between the coupled and uncoupled systems was noted to be an impediment to the development of seamless forecasting systems.

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Ryan D. Torn

Abstract

An ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) coupled to the Advanced Research version of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model is used to generate ensemble analyses and forecasts of a strong African easterly wave (AEW) during the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis field campaign. Ensemble sensitivity analysis is then used to evaluate the impacts of initial condition errors on AEW amplitude and position forecasts at two different initialization times.

WRF forecasts initialized at 0000 UTC 8 September 2006, prior to the amplification of the AEW, are characterized by large variability in evolution as compared to forecasts initialized 48 h later when the AEW is within a denser observation network. Short-lead-time amplitude forecasts are most sensitive to the midtropospheric meridional winds, while at longer lead times, midtropospheric θe errors have equal or larger impacts. For AEW longitude forecasts, the largest sensitivities are associated with the θe downstream of the AEW and, to a lesser extent, the meridional winds. Ensemble predictions of how initial condition errors impact the AEW amplitude and position compare qualitatively well with perturbed integrations of the WRF model.

Much of the precipitation associated with the AEW is generated by the Kain–Fritsch cumulus parameterization, thus the initial-condition sensitivities are also computed for ensemble forecasts that employ the Betts–Miller–Janjić and Grell cumulus parameterization schemes, and for a high-resolution nested domain with explicit convection, but with the same initial conditions. While the 12-h AEW amplitude forecast is characterized by consistent initial-condition sensitivity among the different schemes, there is greater variability among methods beyond 24 h. In contrast, the AEW longitude forecast is sensitive to the downstream thermodynamic profile with all cumulus schemes.

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Fatima Karbou, Elisabeth Gérard, and Florence Rabier

Abstract

To improve the assimilation of Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit-A and -B (AMSU-A and -B) observations over land, three methods, based either on an estimation of the land emissivity or the land skin temperature directly from satellite observations, have been developed. Some feasibility studies have been performed in the Météo-France assimilation system in order to choose the most appropriate method for the system. This study reports on three 2-month assimilation and forecast experiments that use different methods to estimate AMSU-A and -B land emissivities together with the operational run as a control experiment. The experiments and the control have been subjected to several comparisons. The performance of the observation operator for simulating window channel brightness temperatures has been studied. The study shows considerable improvements in the statistics of the window channels’ first-guess departures (bias, standard deviation). The correlations between the observations and the model’s simulations have also been improved, especially over snow-covered areas. The performances of the assimilation system, in terms of cost function change, have been examined: the cost function is generally improved during the screening and remains stable during the minimization. Moreover, comparisons have been made in terms of impacts on both analyses and forecasts.

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Fatima Karbou, Florence Rabier, Jean-Philippe Lafore, Jean-Luc Redelsperger, and Olivier Bock

Abstract

Observations from Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit-A and -B (AMSU-A and -B) have been more intensively used over sea than over land because of large uncertainties about the land surface emissivity and the skin temperature. Several methods based on a direct estimation of the land emissivity from satellite observations have been found to be very useful for improving the assimilation of sounding channels over land. Feasibility studies have been conducted within the Météo-France global assimilation system in order to examine the possibility of assimilating low-level atmospheric observations receiving a contribution from the land surface. The present study reports on three 2-month assimilation and forecast experiments, which include the assimilation of surface-sensitive observations from AMSU-A and -B together with a control experiment, which represents the operational model. The assimilation experiments have been compared with the control, and important changes in the analyzed atmospheric fields and in the precipitation forecasts over parts of the tropics, and especially over West Africa, have been noticed. The experiments seem to emphasize the atmospheric moistening in India, South America, and in West Africa, together with atmospheric drying over Saudi Arabia and northeast Africa. The drying or moistening of the atmosphere has been successfully evaluated using independent measurements from the GPS African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) network. Precipitation and OLR forecasts have also been examined and compared with independent measurements. Physically, the changes result in a better-organized African monsoon with a stronger ITCZ in terms of ascent, vorticity, and precipitation, but there is no northward shift of the monsoon system. Low-level humidity observations have been found to have important impacts on the analysis and to produce positive impacts on forecast scores over the tropics.

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Françoise Guichard, Nicole Asencio, Christophe Peugeot, Olivier Bock, Jean-Luc Redelsperger, Xuefeng Cui, Matthew Garvert, Benjamin Lamptey, Emiliano Orlandi, Julia Sander, Federico Fierli, Miguel Angel Gaertner, Sarah C. Jones, Jean-Philippe Lafore, Andrew Morse, Mathieu Nuret, Aaron Boone, Gianpaolo Balsamo, Patricia de Rosnay, Bertrand Decharme, Philip P. Harris, and J.-C. Bergès

Abstract

An evaluation of precipitation and evapotranspiration simulated by mesoscale models is carried out within the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) program. Six models performed simulations of a mesoscale convective system (MCS) observed to cross part of West Africa in August 2005.

Initial and boundary conditions are found to significantly control the locations of rainfall at synoptic scales as simulated with either mesoscale or global models. When initialized and forced at their boundaries by the same analysis, all models forecast a westward-moving rainfall structure, as observed by satellite products. However, rainfall is also forecast at other locations where none was observed, and the nighttime northward propagation of rainfall is not well reproduced. There is a wide spread in the rainfall rates across simulations, but also among satellite products.

The range of simulated meridional fluctuations of evapotranspiration (E) appears reasonable, but E displays an overly strong zonal symmetry. Offline land surface modeling and surface energy budget considerations show that errors in the simulated E are not simply related to errors in the surface evaporative fraction, and involve the significant impact of cloud cover on the incoming surface shortwave flux.

The use of higher horizontal resolution (a few km) enhances the variability of precipitation, evapotranspiration, and precipitable water (PW) at the mesoscale. It also leads to a weakening of the daytime precipitation, less evapotranspiration, and smaller PW amounts. The simulated MCS propagates farther northward and somewhat faster within an overall drier atmosphere. These changes are associated with a strengthening of the links between PW and precipitation.

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Xuefeng Cui, Douglas J. Parker, and Andrew P. Morse

Abstract

This paper investigates the response of the land surface and the lowest section of the atmospheric surface layer to rainfall events and through the subsequent drying out period. The impacts of these sequences of rainfall and drying events in controlling near-surface temperatures are put into the context of malaria transmission modeling using temperature controls on the survivability of mosquitoes that are developing the malaria parasite. Observations using measurements from a dwelling hut, constructed to a local design at Wankama near Niamey, Niger, show that as the atmosphere gets moister and colder following rainfall, there is a potentially higher risk of malaria transmission during the rainy days. As the atmosphere gets warmer and drier during the drying period, there is a potentially decreasing rate of malaria transmission as the increasing temperature reduces the survivability of the mosquitoes. A numerical weather prediction model comparison shows that the high-resolution limited-area model outperforms the global-scale model and shows good agreement with the observations. Statistical analysis from the model results confirms that the findings are not restricted to a single location or single time of the day. It was also found that air temperatures over forest areas do not change as much during the study period, since the longer memory of the soil moisture means there is relatively little influence from single rainfall events.

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Robert S. Ross, T. N. Krishnamurti, S. Pattnaik, and A. Simon

Abstract

This paper provides an understanding of essential differences between developing and nondeveloping African easterly waves, which was a major goal of NAMMA, NASA’s field program in the eastern Atlantic, which functioned as an extension of the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) program during 2006.

Three NAMMA waves are studied in detail using FNL analysis: NAMMA wave 2, which developed into Tropical Storm Debby; NAMMA wave 7, which developed into Hurricane Helene; and NAMMA wave 4, which did not develop within the NAMMA domain. Diagnostic calculations are performed on the analyzed fields using energy transformation equations and the isentropic potential vorticity equation.

The results show that the two developing waves possess clear and robust positive barotropic energy conversion in conjunction with positive diabatic heating that includes a singular burst of heating at a particular time in the wave’s history. This positive barotropic energy conversion is facilitated in waves that have a northeast–southwest tilt to the trough axis and a wind maximum to the west of this axis. The nondeveloping wave is found to have the same singular burst of diabatic heating at one point in its history, but development of the wave does not occur due to negative barotropic energy conversion. Such conversion is facilitated by a northwest–southeast tilt to the trough axis and a wind maximum to the east of this axis.

The conclusions about wave development and nondevelopment formulated in this research are viewed as important and significant, but they require additional testing with detailed observational- and numerical-based studies.

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C. Faccani, F. Rabier, N. Fourrié, A. Agusti-Panareda, F. Karbou, P. Moll, J.-P. Lafore, M. Nuret, F. Hdidou, and O. Bock

Abstract

The high vertical density soundings recorded during the 2006 African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) campaign are assimilated into the French numerical weather prediction Action de Recherche Petite Echelle Grande Echelle (ARPEGE) four-dimensional variational data assimilation (4DVAR) system, with and without a bias correction for relative humidity. Four different experiments are carried out to assess the impacts of the added observations. The analyses and forecasts from these different scenarios are evaluated over western Africa. For the full experiment using all data together with a bias correction, the humidity analysis is in better agreement with surface observations and independent GPS observations than it was for the other experiments. AMMA data also improve the African easterly jet (AEJ) on its southeasterly side, and when they are used with an appropriate bias correction, the daily and monthly averaged precipitation results are in relatively good agreement with the satellite-based precipitation estimates. Forecast scores are computed with respect to surface observations, radiosondes, and analyses from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). The positive impacts of additional radiosonde observations (with a relevant bias correction) are found to propagate downstream with a positive impact over Europe at the 2–3-day forecast range.

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