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Lili Lei and Jeffrey L. Anderson

Abstract

Two techniques for estimating good localization functions for serial ensemble Kalman filters are compared in observing system simulation experiments (OSSEs) conducted with the dynamical core of an atmospheric general circulation model. The first technique, the global group filter (GGF), minimizes the root-mean-square (RMS) difference between the estimated regression coefficients using a hierarchical ensemble filter. The second, the empirical localization function (ELF), minimizes the RMS difference between the true values of the state variables and the posterior ensemble mean. Both techniques provide an estimate of the localization function for an observation’s impact on a state variable with few a priori assumptions about the localization function. The ELF localizations can have values larger than 1.0 at small distances, indicating that this technique addresses localization but also can correct the prior ensemble spread in the same way as a variance inflation when needed. OSSEs using ELF localizations generally have smaller root-mean-square error (RMSE) than the optimal Gaspari and Cohn (GC) localization function obtained by empirically tuning the GC width. The localization functions estimated by the GGF are broader than those from the ELF, and the OSSEs with the GGF localization generally have larger RMSE than the optimal GC localization function. The GGFs are too broad because of spurious correlation biases that occur in the OSSEs. These errors can be reduced by using a stochastic EnKF with perturbed observations instead of a deterministic EAKF.

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Lili Lei and Jeffrey L. Anderson

Abstract

To investigate the impacts of frequently assimilating only surface pressure (PS) observations, the Data Assimilation Research Testbed and the Community Atmosphere Model (DART/CAM) are used for observing system simulation experiments with the ensemble Kalman filter. An empirical localization function (ELF) is used to effectively spread the information from PS in the vertical. The ELF minimizes the root-mean-square difference between the truth and the posterior ensemble mean for state variables. The temporal frequency of the observations is increased from 6 to 3 h, and then 1 h. By observing only PS, the uncertainty throughout the entire depth of the troposphere can be constrained. The analysis error over the entire depth of the troposphere, especially the middle troposphere, is reduced with increased assimilation frequency. The ELF is similar to the vertical localization function used in the Twentieth-Century Reanalysis (20CR); thus, it demonstrates that the current vertical localization in the 20CR is close to the optimal localization function.

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Jeffrey L. Anderson and Nancy Collins

Abstract

A variant of a least squares ensemble (Kalman) filter that is suitable for implementation on parallel architectures is presented. This parallel ensemble filter produces results that are identical to those from sequential algorithms already described in the literature when forward observation operators that relate the model state vector to the expected value of observations are linear (although actual results may differ due to floating point arithmetic round-off error). For nonlinear forward observation operators, the sequential and parallel algorithms solve different linear approximations to the full problem but produce qualitatively similar results. The parallel algorithm can be implemented to produce identical answers with the state variable prior ensembles arbitrarily partitioned onto a set of processors for the assimilation step (no caveat on round-off is needed for this result).

Example implementations of the parallel algorithm are described for environments with low (high) communication latency and cost. Hybrids of these implementations and the traditional sequential ensemble filter can be designed to optimize performance for a variety of parallel computing environments. For large models on machines with good communications, it is possible to implement the parallel algorithm to scale efficiently to thousands of processors while bit-wise reproducing the results from a single processor implementation. Timing results on several Linux clusters are presented from an implementation appropriate for machines with low-latency communication.

Most ensemble Kalman filter variants that have appeared in the literature differ only in the details of how a prior ensemble estimate of a scalar observation is updated given an observed value and the observational error distribution. These details do not impact other parts of either the sequential or parallel filter algorithms here, so a variety of ensemble filters including ensemble square root and perturbed observations filters can be used with all the implementations described.

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Jeffrey L. Anderson and William F. Stern

Abstract

A method is presented for determining when an ensemble of model forecasts has the potential to provide some useful information. An ensemble forecast of a particular scale quantity is said to have potential predictive utility when the ensemble forecast distribution is significantly different from an appropriate climatological distribution. Here, the potential predictive utility is measured using Kuiper's statistical test for comparing two discrete distributions. More traditional measures of the potential usefulness of an ensemble forecast based on ensemble mean or variance discard possibly valuable information by making implicit assumptions about the distributions being compared.

Application of the potential predictive utility to long integrations of an atmospheric general circulation model in a boundary value problem (an ensemble of Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project integrations) reveals a number of features about the response of a GCM to observed sea surface temperatures. In particular, the ensemble of forecasts is found to have potential predictive utility over large geographic areas for a number of atmospheric fields during strong El Niño-Southern Oscillation anomalous events. Unfortunately, there are only limited areas of potential predictive utility for near-surface fields and precipitation outside the regions of the tropical oceans. Nevertheless, the method presented here can identify all areas where the GCM ensemble may provide useful information, whereas methods that make assumptions about the distribution of the ensemble forecast variables may not be able to do so.

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Xiu-Qun Yang and Jeffrey L. Anderson

Abstract

The prognostic tendency (PT) correction method is applied in an attempt to reduce systematic errors in coupled GCM seasonal forecasts. The PT method computes the systematic initial tendency error (SITE) of the coupled model and subtracts it from the discrete prognostic equations. In this study, the PT correction is applied only to the three-dimensional ocean temperature. The SITE is computed by calculating a climatologically averaged difference between coupled model initial conditions and resulting forecasts at very short lead times and removing the observed mean seasonal tendency.

Two sets of coupled GCM forecasts, one using an annual mean SITE correction and the other using a SITE correction that is a function of season, are compared with a control set of uncorrected forecasts. Each set consists of 17 12-month forecasts starting on 1 January from 1980 through 1996. The PT correction is found to be an effective method for maintaining a more realistic forecast climatology by reducing systematic ocean temperature errors that lead to a relaxation of the tropical Pacific thermocline slope and a weak tropical SST annual cycle in the control set. The annual mean PT correction, which allows the model to freely generate its own seasonal cycle, leads to increased prediction skill for tropical Pacific SSTs while the seasonally varying PT correction has no impact on this skill.

Physical mechanisms responsible for improvements in the coupled model’s annual cycle and forecast skill are investigated. The annual mean structure of the tropical Pacific thermocline is found to be essential for producing a realistic SST annual cycle. The annul mean PT correction helps to maintain a realistic thermocline slope that allows surface winds to impact the annual cycle of SST in the eastern Pacific. Forecast skill is increased if the coupled model correctly captures dynamical modes related to ENSO. The annual mean correction leads to a model ENSO that is best characterized as a delayed oscillator mode while the control model appears to have a more stationary ENSO mode; this apparently has a positive impact on ENSO forecast skill in the PT corrected model.

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Hui Liu, Jeffrey Anderson, and Ying-Hwa Kuo

Abstract

Radio occultation (RO) refractivity observations provide information about tropospheric water vapor and temperature in all weather conditions. The impact of using RO refractivity observations on analyses and forecasts of Hurricane Ernesto’s genesis (2006) using an ensemble Kaman filter data assimilation system is investigated. Assimilating RO refractivity profiles in the vicinity of the storm locally moistens the analysis of the lower troposphere and also adjusts the wind analysis in both the lower and upper troposphere through forecast multivariate correlations of RO refractivity and wind. The model forecasts propagate and enhance the added water vapor and the wind adjustments leading to more accurate analyses of the later stages of the genesis of the storm. The root-mean-square errors of water vapor and wind forecasts compared to dropsonde and radiosonde observations are reduced consistently. As a result, assimilating RO refractivity data in addition to traditional observations leads to a stronger initial vortex of the storm and improved forecasts of the storm’s intensification. The benefits of the RO data are much reduced when the RO data in the lower troposphere (below 6 km) are ignored.

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Alicia R. Karspeck and Jeffrey L. Anderson

Abstract

The assimilation of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies into a coupled ocean–atmosphere model of the tropical Pacific is investigated using an ensemble adjustment Kalman filter (EAKF). The intermediate coupled model used here is the operational version of the Zebiak–Cane model, called LDEO5. The assimilation is applied as a means of estimating the true state of the system in the presence of incomplete observations of the state.

In the first part of this study assimilation is performed under the “perfect model” assumption, where SST observations are synthetically derived from a trajectory of the model. The focus is on how and why changes in the filter parameters (ensemble size, covariance localization, and covariance inflation) affect the quality of the analysis. It is shown that isotropic covariance localization does not benefit the analysis even when a small number of ensemble members are used. These results suggest that destruction of the “balance” between variables caused by localization is more detrimental than spurious correlation due to small ensemble size.

In the second part of this study the EAKF is used to assimilate an independent dataset of SST observations. The EAKF/Zebiak–Cane assimilation system is able to correctly estimate the phase and intensity of ENSO, as measured by the average SST anomaly in the eastern equatorial Pacific. A comparison of the analysis herein to independent wind stress and thermocline depth datasets suggests that even with the assimilation of only SST observations it is possible to reproduce over 70% of the interannual variability of thermocline depth in the eastern equatorial Pacific and off the coast of the Philippine Islands. The interannual variability of zonal wind stress in the central and western equatorial Pacific is also well correlated with independent observations (R > 0.75).

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David J. Stensrud and Jeffrey L. Anderson

Abstract

The ability of persistent midlatitude convective regions to influence hemispheric circulation patterns during the Northern Hemisphere summer is investigated. Global rainfall data over a 15-yr period indicate anomalously large July total rainfalls occurred over mesoscale-sized, midlatitude regions of North America and/or Southeast Asia during the years of 1987, 1991, 1992, and 1993. The anomalous 200-hPa vorticity patterns for these same years are suggestive of Rossby wave trains emanating from the regions of anomalous rainfall in the midlatitudes.

Results from an analysis of an 11-yr mean monthly 200-hPa July wind field indicate that, in the climatological mean, Rossby waveguides are present that could assist in developing a large-scale response from mesoscale-sized regions of persistent convection in the midlatitudes. This hypothesis is tested using a barotropic model linearized about the 200-hPa July time-mean flow and forced by the observed divergence anomalies. The model results are in qualitative agreement in the observed July vorticity anomalies for the four years investigated. Model results forced by observed tropical forcings for the same years do not demonstrate any significant influence on the midlatitude circulation. It is argued that persistent midlatitude convective regions may play a role in the development, maintenance, and dissipation of the large-scale circulations that help to support the convective regions.

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Yue Ying, Fuqing Zhang, and Jeffrey L. Anderson

Abstract

Covariance localization remedies sampling errors due to limited ensemble size in ensemble data assimilation. Previous studies suggest that the optimal localization radius depends on ensemble size, observation density and accuracy, as well as the correlation length scale determined by model dynamics. A comprehensive localization theory for multiscale dynamical systems with varying observation density remains an active area of research. Using a two-layer quasigeostrophic (QG) model, this study systematically evaluates the sensitivity of the best Gaspari–Cohn localization radius to changes in model resolution, ensemble size, and observing networks. Numerical experiment results show that the best localization radius is smaller for smaller-scale components of a QG flow, indicating its scale dependency. The best localization radius is rather insensitive to changes in model resolution, as long as the key dynamical processes are reasonably well represented by the low-resolution model with inflation methods that account for representation errors. As ensemble size decreases, the best localization radius shifts to smaller values. However, for nonlocal correlations between an observation and state variables that peak at a certain distance, decreasing localization radii further within this distance does not reduce analysis errors. Increasing the density of an observing network has two effects that both reduce the best localization radius. First, the reduced observation error spectral variance further constrains prior ensembles at large scales. Less large-scale contribution results in a shorter overall correlation length, which favors a smaller localization radius. Second, a denser network provides more independent pieces of information, thus a smaller localization radius still allows the same number of observations to constrain each state variable.

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Hisashi Nakamura, Mototaka Nakamura, and Jeffrey L. Anderson

Abstract

Time evolutions of prominent blocking flow configurations over the North Pacific and Europe are compared based upon composites for the 30 strongest events observed during 27 recent winter seasons. Fluctuations associated with synoptic-scale migratory eddies have been filtered out before the compositing. A quasi-stationary wave train across the Atlantic is evident during the blocking amplification over Europe, while no counterpart is found to the west of the amplifying blocking over the North Pacific. Correlation between the tropopause-level potential vorticity (PV) and meridional wind velocity associated with the amplifying blocking is found to be negative over Europe in association with the anticyclonic evolution of the low-PV center, but it is almost zero over the North Pacific. Feedback from the synoptic-scale eddies, as evaluated in the form of 250-mb geopotential height tendency due to the eddy vorticity flux convergence, accounts for more than 75% of the observed amplification for the Pacific blocking and less than 45% for the European blocking. This difference is highlighted in two types of “contour advection with surgery” experiments. In one of them PV contours observed four days before the peak blocking time were advected by composite time series of the low-pass-filtered observational wind, and in the other experiment they were advected by the low-pass-filtered wind from which the transient eddy feedback evaluated as above had been removed at every time step. Hence, the latter data should be dominated by low-frequency dynamics. For the European blocking both experiments can reproduce the anticyclonic evolution of low-PV air within a blocking ridge as observed. For the Pacific blocking, in contrast, the observed intrusion of low-PV air into the higher latitudes cannot be reproduced without the transient feedback. Furthermore, in a barotropic model initialized with the composite 250-mb flow observed three days before the peak time, a simulated blocking development over the North Pacific is more sensitive to the insertion of the observed transient feedback than that over Europe. These results suggest that the incoming wave activity flux associated with a quasi-stationary Rossby wave train is of primary importance in the blocking formation over Europe, whereas the forcing by the synoptic-scale transients is indispensable to that over the North Pacific.

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