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Elizabeth E. Ebert, Laurence J. Wilson, Barbara G. Brown, Pertti Nurmi, Harold E. Brooks, John Bally, and Matthias Jaeneke


The verification phase of the World Weather Research Programme (WWRP) Sydney 2000 Forecast Demonstration Project (FDP) was intended to measure the skill of the participating nowcast algorithms in predicting the location of convection, rainfall rate and occurrence, wind speed and direction, severe thunderstorm wind gusts, and hail location and size. An additional question of interest was whether forecasters could improve the quality of the nowcasts compared to the FDP products alone.

The nowcasts were verified using a variety of statistical techniques. Observational data came from radar reflectivity and rainfall analyses, a network of rain gauges, and human (spotter) observations. The verification results showed that the cell tracking algorithms predicted the location of the strongest cells with a mean error of about 15–30 km for a 1-h forecast, and were usually more accurate than an extrapolation (Lagrangian persistence) forecast. Mean location errors for the area tracking schemes were on the order of 20 km.

Almost all of the algorithms successfully predicted the frequency of rain throughout the forecast period, although most underestimated the frequency of high rain rates. The skill in predicting rain occurrence decreased very quickly into the forecast period. In particular, the algorithms could not predict the precise location of heavy rain beyond the first 10–20 min. Using radar analyses as verification, the algorithms' spatial forecasts were consistently more skillful than simple persistence. However, when verified against rain gauge observations at point locations, the algorithms had difficulty beating persistence, mainly due to differences in spatial and temporal resolution.

Only one algorithm attempted to forecast gust fronts. The results for a limited sample showed a mean absolute error of 7 km h−1 and mean bias of 3 km h−1 in the speed of the gust fronts during the FDP. The errors in sea-breeze front forecasts were half as large, with essentially no bias. Verification of the hail associated with the 3 November tornadic storm showed that the two algorithms that estimated hail size and occurrence successfully diagnosed the onset and cessation of the hail to within 30 min of the reported sightings. The time evolution of hail size was reasonably well captured by the algorithms, and the predicted mean and maximum hail diameters were consistent with the observations.

The Thunderstorm Interactive Forecast System (TIFS) allowed forecasters to modify the output of the cell tracking nowcasts, primarily using it to remove cells that were insignificant or diagnosed with incorrect motion. This manual filtering resulted in markedly reduced mean cell position errors when compared to the unfiltered forecasts. However, when forecasters attempted to adjust the storm tracks for a small number of well-defined intense cells, the position errors increased slightly, suggesting that in such cases the objective guidance is probably the best estimate of storm motion.

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Eric Gilleland, Gregor Skok, Barbara G. Brown, Barbara Casati, Manfred Dorninger, Marion P. Mittermaier, Nigel Roberts, and Laurence J. Wilson


As part of the second phase of the spatial forecast verification intercomparison project (ICP), dubbed the Mesoscale Verification Intercomparison in Complex Terrain (MesoVICT) project, a new set of idealized test fields is prepared. This paper describes these new fields and their rationale and uses them to analyze a number of summary measures associated with distance and geometric-based approaches. The results provide guidance about how they inform about performance under various scenarios. The new case comparisons are grouped into four categories: (i) pathological situations such as when a variable is zero valued at all grid points; (ii) circular events aimed at evaluating how different methods handle contrived situations, such as equal but opposite translations, the presence of multiple events of same/different size, boundary effects, and the influence of the positioning of events in the domain; (iii) elliptical events representing simplified scenarios that mimic commonly encountered weather phenomena in complex terrain; and (iv) cases aimed at analyzing how the verification methods handle small-scale scattered events, very large events with holes (e.g., a small portion of clear sky on a cloudy overcast day), and the presence of noise in one or both fields. Results show that all analyzed measures perform poorly in the pathological setting. They are either not able to provide a result at all or they instigate a special rule to prescribe a value resulting in erratic results. The analysis also showed that methods provide similar information in many situations, but that each has its positive properties along with certain unique limitations.

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Manfred Dorninger, Eric Gilleland, Barbara Casati, Marion P. Mittermaier, Elizabeth E. Ebert, Barbara G. Brown, and Laurence J. Wilson


Recent advancements in numerical weather prediction (NWP) and the enhancement of model resolution have created the need for more robust and informative verification methods. In response to these needs, a plethora of spatial verification approaches have been developed in the past two decades. A spatial verification method intercomparison was established in 2007 with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the abilities of the new spatial verification methods to diagnose different types of forecast errors. The project focused on prescribed errors for quantitative precipitation forecasts over the central United States. The intercomparison led to a classification of spatial verification methods and a cataloging of their diagnostic capabilities, providing useful guidance to end users, model developers, and verification scientists. A decade later, NWP systems have continued to increase in resolution, including advances in high-resolution ensembles. This article describes the setup of a second phase of the verification intercomparison, called the Mesoscale Verification Intercomparison over Complex Terrain (MesoVICT). MesoVICT focuses on the application, capability, and enhancement of spatial verification methods to deterministic and ensemble forecasts of precipitation, wind, and temperature over complex terrain. Importantly, this phase also explores the issue of analysis uncertainty through the use of an ensemble of meteorological analyses.

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Richard Swinbank, Masayuki Kyouda, Piers Buchanan, Lizzie Froude, Thomas M. Hamill, Tim D. Hewson, Julia H. Keller, Mio Matsueda, John Methven, Florian Pappenberger, Michael Scheuerer, Helen A. Titley, Laurence Wilson, and Munehiko Yamaguchi


The International Grand Global Ensemble (TIGGE) was a major component of The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment (THORPEX) research program, whose aim is to accelerate improvements in forecasting high-impact weather. By providing ensemble prediction data from leading operational forecast centers, TIGGE has enhanced collaboration between the research and operational meteorological communities and enabled research studies on a wide range of topics.

The paper covers the objective evaluation of the TIGGE data. For a range of forecast parameters, it is shown to be beneficial to combine ensembles from several data providers in a multimodel grand ensemble. Alternative methods to correct systematic errors, including the use of reforecast data, are also discussed.

TIGGE data have been used for a range of research studies on predictability and dynamical processes. Tropical cyclones are the most destructive weather systems in the world and are a focus of multimodel ensemble research. Their extratropical transition also has a major impact on the skill of midlatitude forecasts. We also review how TIGGE has added to our understanding of the dynamics of extratropical cyclones and storm tracks.

Although TIGGE is a research project, it has proved invaluable for the development of products for future operational forecasting. Examples include the forecasting of tropical cyclone tracks, heavy rainfall, strong winds, and flood prediction through coupling hydrological models to ensembles.

Finally, the paper considers the legacy of TIGGE. We discuss the priorities and key issues in predictability and ensemble forecasting, including the new opportunities of convective-scale ensembles, links with ensemble data assimilation methods, and extension of the range of useful forecast skill.

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Philippe Bougeault, Zoltan Toth, Craig Bishop, Barbara Brown, David Burridge, De Hui Chen, Beth Ebert, Manuel Fuentes, Thomas M. Hamill, Ken Mylne, Jean Nicolau, Tiziana Paccagnella, Young-Youn Park, David Parsons, Baudouin Raoult, Doug Schuster, Pedro Silva Dias, Richard Swinbank, Yoshiaki Takeuchi, Warren Tennant, Laurence Wilson, and Steve Worley

Ensemble forecasting is increasingly accepted as a powerful tool to improve early warnings for high-impact weather. Recently, ensembles combining forecasts from different systems have attracted a considerable level of interest. The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment (THORPEX) Interactive Grand Globa l Ensemble (TIGGE) project, a prominent contribution to THORPEX, has been initiated to enable advanced research and demonstration of the multimodel ensemble concept and to pave the way toward operational implementation of such a system at the international level. The objectives of TIGGE are 1) to facilitate closer cooperation between the academic and operational meteorological communities by expanding the availability of operational products for research, and 2) to facilitate exploring the concept and benefits of multimodel probabilistic weather forecasts, with a particular focus on high-impact weather prediction. Ten operational weather forecasting centers producing daily global ensemble forecasts to 1–2 weeks ahead have agreed to deliver in near–real time a selection of forecast data to the TIGGE data archives at the China Meteorological Agency, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The volume of data accumulated daily is 245 GB (1.6 million global fields). This is offered to the scientific community as a new resource for research and education. The TIGGE data policy is to make each forecast accessible via the Internet 48 h after it was initially issued by each originating center. Quicker access can also be granted for field experiments or projects of particular interest to the World Weather Research Programme and THORPEX. A few examples of initial results based on TIGGE data are discussed in this paper, and the case is made for additional research in several directions.

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