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Kathryn M. Newman
,
Craig S. Schwartz
,
Zhiquan Liu
,
Hui Shao
, and
Xiang-Yu Huang

Abstract

This study examines the impact of assimilating Microwave Humidity Sounder (MHS) radiances in a limited-area ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) data assimilation system. Two experiments spanning 11 August–13 September 2008 were run over a domain featuring the Atlantic basin using a 6-h full cycling analysis and forecast system. Deterministic 72-h forecasts were initialized at 0000 and 1200 UTC for a comparison of forecast impact. The two experiments were configured identically with the exception of the inclusion of the MHS radiances (AMHS) in the second to isolate the impacts of the MHS radiance data. The results were verified against several sources, and statistical significance tests indicate the most notable differences are in the midlevel moisture fields. Both configurations were characterized by high moisture biases when compared to the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts interim reanalysis (ERA-Interim, also known as ERA-I) specific humidity fields, as well as precipitable water vapor from an observationally based product. However, the AMHS experiment has midlevel moisture fields closer to the ERA-I and observation datasets. When reducing the verification domain to focus on the subtropical and easterly wave regions of the North Atlantic Ocean, larger improvements in midlevel moisture at nearly all lead times is seen in the AMHS simulation. Finally, when considering tropical cyclone forecasts, the AMHS configuration shows improvement in intensity forecasts at several lead times as well as improvements at early to intermediate lead times for minimum sea level pressure forecasts.

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Hongli Wang
,
Xiang-Yu Huang
,
Juanzhen Sun
,
Dongmei Xu
,
Man Zhang
,
Shuiyong Fan
, and
Jiqin Zhong

Abstract

Background error modeling plays a key role in a variational data assimilation system. The National Meteorological Center (NMC) method has been widely used in variational data assimilation systems to generate a forecast error ensemble from which the climatological background error covariance can be modeled. In this paper, the characteristics of the background error modeling via the NMC method are investigated for the variational data assimilation system of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF-Var) Model. The background error statistics are extracted from short-term 3-km-resolution forecasts in June, July, and August 2012 over a limited-area domain. It is found 1) that background error variances vary from month to month and also have a feature of diurnal variations in the low-level atmosphere and 2) that u- and υ-wind variances are underestimated and their autocorrelation length scales are overestimated when the default control variable option in WRF-Var is used. A new approach of control variable transform (CVT) is proposed to model the background error statistics based on the NMC method. The new approach is capable of extracting inhomogeneous and anisotropic climatological information from the forecast error ensemble obtained via the NMC method. Single observation assimilation experiments show that the proposed method not only has the merit of incorporating geographically dependent covariance information, but also is able to produce a multivariate analysis. The results from the data assimilaton and forecast study of a real convective case show that the use of the new CVT improves synoptic weather system and precipitation forecasts for up to 12 h.

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Xin Zhang
,
Xiang-Yu Huang
,
Jianyu Liu
,
Jonathan Poterjoy
,
Yonghui Weng
,
Fuqing Zhang
, and
Hongli Wang

Abstract

This paper presents the development of a single executable four-dimensional variational data assimilation (4D-Var) system based on the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model through coupling the variational data assimilation algorithm (WRF-VAR) with the newly developed WRF tangent linear and adjoint model (WRFPLUS). Compared to the predecessor Multiple Program Multiple Data version, the new WRF 4D-Var system achieves major improvements in that all processing cores are able to participate in the computation and all information exchanges between WRF-VAR and WRFPLUS are moved directly from disk to memory. The single executable 4D-Var system demonstrates desirable acceleration and scalability in terms of the computational performance, as demonstrated through a series of benchmarking data assimilation experiments carried out over a continental U.S. domain. To take into account the nonlinear processes with the linearized minimization algorithm and to further decrease the computational cost of the 4D-Var minimization, a multi-incremental minimization that uses multiple horizontal resolutions for the inner loop has been developed. The method calculates the innovations with a high-resolution grid and minimizes the cost function with a lower-resolution grid. The details regarding the transition between the high-resolution outer loop and the low-resolution inner loop are introduced. Performance of the multi-incremental configuration is found to be comparable to that with the full-resolution 4D-Var in terms of 24-h forecast accuracy in the week-long analysis and forecast experiment over the continental U.S. domain. Moreover, the capability of the newly developed multi-incremental 4D-Var system is further demonstrated in the convection-permitting analysis and forecast experiment for Hurricane Sandy (2012), which was hardly computationally feasible with the predecessor WRF 4D-Var system.

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Xin Zhang
,
Ying-Hwa Kuo
,
Shu-Ya Chen
,
Xiang-Yu Huang
, and
Ling-Feng Hsiao

Abstract

The nonlocal excess phase observation operator for assimilating the global positioning system (GPS) radio occultation (RO) sounding data has been proven by some research papers to produce significantly better analyses for numerical weather prediction (NWP) compared to the local refractivity observation operator. However, the high computational cost and the difficulties in parallelization associated with the nonlocal GPS RO operator deter its application in research and operational NWP practices. In this article, two strategies are designed and implemented in the data assimilation system for the Weather Research and Forecasting Model to demonstrate the capability of parallel assimilation of GPS RO profiles with the nonlocal excess phase observation operator. In particular, to solve the parallel load imbalance problem due to the uneven geographic distribution of the GPS RO observations, round-robin scheduling is adopted to distribute GPS RO observations among the processing cores to balance the workload. The wall clock time required to complete a five-iteration minimization on a demonstration Antarctic case with 106 GPS RO observations is reduced from more than 3.5 h with a single processing core to 2.5 min with 106 processing cores. These strategies present the possibility of application of the nonlocal GPS RO excess phase observation operator in operational data assimilation systems with a cutoff time limit.

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Feng Gao
,
Xiaoyan Zhang
,
Neil A. Jacobs
,
Xiang-Yu Huang
,
Xin Zhang
, and
Peter P. Childs

Abstract

Tropospheric Airborne Meteorological Data Reporting (TAMDAR) observations are becoming a major data source for numerical weather prediction (NWP) because of the advantages of their high spatiotemporal resolution and humidity measurements. In this study, the estimation of TAMDAR observational errors, and the impacts of TAMDAR observations with new error statistics on short-term forecasts are presented. The observational errors are estimated by a three-way collocated statistical comparison. This method employs collocated meteorological reports from three data sources: TAMDAR, radiosondes, and the 6-h forecast from a Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF). The performance of TAMDAR observations with the new error statistics was then evaluated based on this model, and the WRF Data Assimilation (WRFDA) three-dimensional variational data assimilation (3DVAR) system. The analysis was conducted for both January and June of 2010. The experiments assimilate TAMDAR, as well as other conventional data with the exception of non-TAMDAR aircraft observations, every 6 h, and a 24-h forecast is produced. The standard deviation of the observational error of TAMDAR, which has relatively stable values regardless of season, is comparable to radiosondes for temperature, and slightly smaller than that of a radiosonde for relative humidity. The observational errors in wind direction significantly depend on wind speeds. In general, at low wind speeds, the error in TAMDAR is greater than that of radiosondes; however, the opposite is true for higher wind speeds. The impact of TAMDAR observations on both the 6- and 24-h WRF forecasts during the studied period is positive when using the default observational aircraft weather report (AIREP) error statistics. The new TAMDAR error statistics presented here bring additional improvement over the default error.

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Qingnong Xiao
,
Ying-Hwa Kuo
,
Zaizhong Ma
,
Wei Huang
,
Xiang-Yu Huang
,
Xiaoyan Zhang
,
Dale M. Barker
,
John Michalakes
, and
Jimy Dudhia

Abstract

The tangent linear and adjoint of an adiabatic version of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model with its Advanced Research WRF (ARW) dynamic core have been developed. The source-to-source automatic differentiation tool [i.e., the Transformation of Algorithm (TAF) in FORTRAN] was used in the development. Tangent linear and adjoint checks of the developed adiabatic WRF adjoint modeling system (WAMS) were conducted, and all necessary correctness verification procedures were passed. As the first application, the adiabatic WAMS was used to study the adjoint sensitivity of a severe windstorm in Antarctica. Linearity tests indicated that an adjoint-based sensitivity study with the Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS) 90-km domain configuration for the windstorm is valid up to 24 h. The adjoint-based sensitivity calculation with adiabatic WAMS identified sensitive regions for the improvement of the 24-h forecast of the windstorm. It is indicated that the windstorm forecast largely relies on the model initial conditions in the area from the south part of the Trans-Antarctic Mountains to West Antarctica and between the Ross Ice Shelf and the South Pole. Based on the sensitivity analysis, the southerly or southeasterly wind at lower levels in the sensitivity region should be larger, the cyclone should be stronger, and the atmospheric stratification should be more stable over the north slope of the Trans-Antarctic Mountain to the Ross Ice Shelf, than the AMPS analyses. By constructing pseudo-observations in the sensitivity region using the gradient information of forecast windstorm intensity around McMurdo, the model initial conditions are revised with the WRF three-dimensional variational data assimilation, which leads to significant improvement in the prediction of the windstorm. An adjoint sensitivity study is an efficient way to identify sensitivity regions in order to collect more observations in the region for better forecasts in a specific aspect of interest.

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Yaodeng Chen
,
Hongli Wang
,
Jinzhong Min
,
Xiang-Yu Huang
,
Patrick Minnis
,
Ruizhi Zhang
,
Julie Haggerty
, and
Rabindra Palikonda

Abstract

Analysis of the cloud components in numerical weather prediction models using advanced data assimilation techniques has been a prime topic in recent years. In this research, the variational data assimilation (DA) system for the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model (WRFDA) is further developed to assimilate satellite cloud products that will produce the cloud liquid water and ice water analysis. Observation operators for the cloud liquid water path and cloud ice water path are developed and incorporated into the WRFDA system. The updated system is tested by assimilating cloud liquid water path and cloud ice water path observations from Global Geostationary Gridded Cloud Products at NASA. To assess the impact of cloud liquid/ice water path data assimilation on short-term regional numerical weather prediction (NWP), 3-hourly cycling data assimilation and forecast experiments with and without the use of the cloud liquid/ice water paths are conducted. It is shown that assimilating cloud liquid/ice water paths increases the accuracy of temperature, humidity, and wind analyses at model levels between 300 and 150 hPa after 5 cycles (15 h). It is also shown that assimilating cloud liquid/ice water paths significantly reduces forecast errors in temperature and wind at model levels between 300 and 150 hPa. The precipitation forecast skills are improved as well. One reason that leads to the improved analysis and forecast is that the 3-hourly rapid update cycle carries over the impact of cloud information from the previous cycles spun up by the WRF Model.

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Hui Shao
,
John Derber
,
Xiang-Yu Huang
,
Ming Hu
,
Kathryn Newman
,
Donald Stark
,
Michael Lueken
,
Chunhua Zhou
,
Louisa Nance
,
Ying-Hwa Kuo
, and
Barbara Brown

Abstract

With a goal of improving operational numerical weather prediction (NWP), the Developmental Testbed Center (DTC) has been working with operational centers, including, among others, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the U.S. Air Force, to support numerical models/systems and their research, perform objective testing and evaluation of NWP methods, and facilitate research-to-operations transitions. This article introduces the first attempt of the DTC in the data assimilation area to help achieve this goal. Since 2009, the DTC, NCEP’s Environmental Modeling Center (EMC), and other developers have made significant progress in transitioning the operational Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI) data assimilation system into a community-based code management framework. Currently, GSI is provided to the public with user support and is open for contributions from internal developers as well as the broader research community, following the same code transition procedures. This article introduces measures and steps taken during this community GSI effort followed by discussions of encountered challenges and issues. The purpose of this article is to promote contributions from the research community to operational data assimilation capabilities and, furthermore, to seek potential solutions to stimulate such a transition and, eventually, improve the NWP capabilities in the United States.

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Xiangming Sun
,
Xiang-Yu Huang
,
Chris Gordon
,
Marion Mittermaier
,
Rebecca Beckett
,
Wee Kiong Cheong
,
Dale Barker
,
Rachel North
, and
Allison Semple

Abstract

Sumatra squalls are important rain-bearing weather systems that affect Singapore and southern Peninsular Malaysia. The performance of forecasts for 63 past squall events is evaluated using a subjective evaluation by forecasters and an objective evaluation based on the fractions skill score (FSS). The purpose of this study is to investigate whether an objective procedure can reproduce the main results of the subjective evaluation. A convection permitting version of the Met Office (UKMO) Unified Model (UM), configured for a limited domain in the southern region of the South China Sea, is used with two driving global deterministic models: the UM and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) model. Subjective and objective evaluation scoring methods for the two limited-area forecasts of the UM are compared, and it is shown that the objective procedure can reasonably emulate the scores produced by the forecasters in the context of parameters that are of direct relevance to the forecast process. This indicates that automated objective verification methods may be a reasonable alternative to resource intensive subjective evaluations for some cases. The robustness of the objective results is investigated using 7 months of data, and issues of statistical significance are considered.

Open access
Ling-Feng Hsiao
,
Xiang-Yu Huang
,
Ying-Hwa Kuo
,
Der-Song Chen
,
Hongli Wang
,
Chin-Cheng Tsai
,
Tien-Chiang Yeh
,
Jing-Shan Hong
,
Chin-Tzu Fong
, and
Cheng-Shang Lee

Abstract

A blending method to merge the NCEP global analysis with the regional analysis from the WRF variational data assimilation system is implemented using a spatial filter for the purpose of initializing the Typhoon WRF (TWRF) Model, which has been in operation at Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau (CWB) since 2010. The blended analysis is weighted toward the NCEP global analysis for scales greater than the cutoff length of 1200 km, and is weighted toward the WRF regional analysis for length below that. TWRF forecast experiments on 19 typhoons from July to October 2013 over the western North Pacific Ocean show that the large-scale analysis from NCEP GFS is superior to that of the regional analysis, which significantly improves the typhoon track forecasts. On the other hand, the regional WRF analysis provides a well-developed typhoon structure and more accurately captures the influence of the Taiwan topography on the typhoon circulation. As a result, the blended analysis takes advantage of the large-scale analysis from the NCEP global analysis and the detailed mesoscale analysis from the regional WRF analysis. In additional to the improved track forecast, the blended analysis also provides more accurate rainfall forecasts for typhoons affecting Taiwan. Because of the improved performance, the blending method has been implemented in the CWB operational TWRF typhoon prediction system.

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