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Xuguang Wang
,
Dale M. Barker
,
Chris Snyder
, and
Thomas M. Hamill

Abstract

A hybrid ensemble transform Kalman filter–three-dimensional variational data assimilation (ETKF–3DVAR) system for the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model is introduced. The system is based on the existing WRF 3DVAR. Unlike WRF 3DVAR, which utilizes a simple, static covariance model to estimate the forecast-error statistics, the hybrid system combines ensemble covariances with the static covariances to estimate the complex, flow-dependent forecast-error statistics. Ensemble covariances are incorporated by using the extended control variable method during the variational minimization. The ensemble perturbations are maintained by the computationally efficient ETKF. As an initial attempt to test and understand the newly developed system, both an observing system simulation experiment under the perfect model assumption (Part I) and the real observation experiment (Part II) were conducted. In these pilot studies, the WRF was run over the North America domain at a coarse grid spacing (200 km) to emphasize synoptic scales, owing to limited computational resources and the large number of experiments conducted. In Part I, simulated radiosonde wind and temperature observations were assimilated. The results demonstrated that the hybrid data assimilation method provided more accurate analyses than the 3DVAR. The horizontal distributions of the errors demonstrated the hybrid analyses had larger improvements over data-sparse regions than over data-dense regions. It was also found that the ETKF ensemble spread in general agreed with the root-mean-square background forecast error for both the first- and second-order measures. Given the coarse resolution, relatively sparse observation network, and perfect model assumption adopted in this part of the study, caution is warranted when extrapolating the results to operational applications.

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Samuel K. Degelia
,
Xuguang Wang
,
David J. Stensrud
, and
Aaron Johnson

Abstract

The initiation of new convection at night in the Great Plains contributes to a nocturnal maximum in precipitation and produces localized heavy rainfall and severe weather hazards in the region. Although previous work has evaluated numerical model forecasts and data assimilation (DA) impacts for convection initiation (CI), most previous studies focused only on convection that initiates during the afternoon and not explicitly on nocturnal thunderstorms. In this study, we investigate the impact of assimilating in situ and radar observations for a nocturnal CI event on 25 June 2013 using an ensemble-based DA and forecast system. Results in this study show that a successful CI forecast resulted only when assimilating conventional in situ observations on the inner, convection-allowing domain. Assimilating in situ observations strengthened preexisting convection in southwestern Kansas by enhancing buoyancy and locally strengthening low-level convergence. The enhanced convection produced a cold pool that, together with increased convergence along the northwestern low-level jet (LLJ) terminus near the region of CI, was an important mechanism for lifting parcels to their level of free convection. Gravity waves were also produced atop the cold pool that provided further elevated ascent. Assimilating radar observations further improved the forecast by suppressing spurious convection and reducing the number of ensemble members that produced CI along a spurious outflow boundary. The fact that the successful CI forecasts resulted only when the in situ observations were assimilated suggests that accurately capturing the preconvective environment and specific mesoscale features is especially important for nocturnal CI forecasts.

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Bo Huang
,
Xuguang Wang
,
Daryl T. Kleist
, and
Ting Lei

Abstract

A scale-dependent localization (SDL) method was formulated and implemented in the Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI)-based four-dimensional ensemble-variational (4DEnVar) system for NCEP FV3-based Global Forecast System (GFS). SDL applies different localization to different scales of ensemble covariances, while performing a single-step simultaneous assimilation of all available observations. Two SDL variants with (SDL-Cross) and without (SDL-NoCross) considering cross-wave-band covariances were examined. The performance of two- and three-wave-band SDL experiments (W2 and W3, respectively) was evaluated through 1-month cycled data assimilation experiments. SDL improves global forecasts to 5 days over scale-invariant localization including the operationally tuned level-dependent scale-invariant localization (W1-Ope). The W3 SDL-Cross experiment shows more accurate tropical storm–track forecasts at shorter lead times than W1-Ope. Compared to the W2 SDL experiments, the W3 SDL counterparts applying tighter horizontal localization at medium-scale wave band generally show improved global forecasts below 100 hPa, but degraded global forecasts above 50 hPa. While the outperformance of the W3 SDL-NoCross experiment versus the W2 SDL-NoCross experiment below 100 hPa lasts for 5 days, that of the W3 SDL-Cross experiment versus the W2 SDL-Cross experiment lasts for 3 days. Due to local spatial averaging of ensemble covariances that may alleviate sampling error, the SDL-NoCross experiments show slightly better forecasts than the SDL-Cross experiments at shorter lead times. However, the SDL-Cross experiments outperform the SDL-NoCross experiments at longer lead times, likely from retention of more heterogeneity of ensemble covariances and resultant analyses with improved balance. Relative performance of tropical storm–track forecasts in the W2 and W3 SDL experiments are generally consistent with that of global forecasts.

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Hristo G. Chipilski
,
Xuguang Wang
, and
David B. Parsons

Abstract

Using data from the 6 July 2015 PECAN case study, this paper provides the first objective assessment of how the assimilation of ground-based remote sensing profilers affects the forecasts of bore-driven convection. To account for the multiscale nature of the phenomenon, data impacts are examined separately with respect to (i) the bore environment, (ii) the explicitly resolved bore, and (iii) the bore-initiated convection. The findings from this work suggest that remote sensing profiling instruments provide considerable advantages over conventional in situ observations, especially when the retrieved data are assimilated at a high temporal frequency. The clearest forecast improvements are seen in terms of the predicted bore environment where the assimilation of kinematic profilers reduces a preexisting bias in the structure of the low-level jet. Data impacts with respect to the other two forecast components are mixed in nature. While the assimilation of thermodynamic retrievals from the Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer (AERI) results in the best convective forecast, it also creates a positive bias in the height of the convectively generated bore. Conversely, the assimilation of wind profiler data improves the characteristics of the explicitly resolved bore, but tends to further exacerbate the lack of convection in the control forecasts. Various dynamical diagnostics utilized throughout this study provide a physical insight into the data impact results and demonstrate that a successful prediction of bore-driven convection requires an accurate depiction of the internal bore structure as well as the ambient environment ahead of it.

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Therese E. Thompson
,
Louis J. Wicker
, and
Xuguang Wang

Abstract

Maximizing the accuracy of ensemble Kalman filtering (EnKF) radar data assimilation requires that the observation operator sample the model state in the same manner that the radar sampled the atmosphere. It may therefore be desirable to include volume averaging and power weighting in the observation operator. This study examines the impact of including radar-sampling effects in the Doppler velocity observation operator on EnKF analyses and forecasts. Locally substantial differences are found between a simple point operator and a realistic radar-sampling operator when they are applied to the model state at a single time. However, assimilation results indicate that the radar-sampling operator does not substantially improve the EnKF analyses or forecasts, and it greatly increases the computational cost of the data assimilation.

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Christopher A. Kerr
,
David J. Stensrud
, and
Xuguang Wang

Abstract

The Mesoscale Predictability Experiment (MPEX) conducted during the spring of 2013 included frequent coordinated sampling of near-storm environments via upsondes. These unique observations were taken to better understand the upscale effects of deep convection on the environment, and are used to validate the accuracy of convection-allowing (Δx = 3 km) model ensemble analyses. A 36-member ensemble was created with physics diversity using the Weather Research and Forecasting Model, and observations were assimilated via the Data Assimilation Research Testbed using an ensemble adjustment Kalman filter. A 4-day sequence of convective events from 28 to 31 May 2013 in the south-central United States was analyzed by assimilating Doppler radar and conventional observations. No MPEX upsonde observations were assimilated. Since the ensemble mean analyses produce an accurate depiction of the storms, the MPEX observations are used to verify the accuracy of the analyses of the near-storm environment.

A total of 81 upsondes were released over the 4-day period, sampling different regions of near-storm environments including storm inflow, outflow, and anvil. The MPEX observations reveal modest analysis errors overall when considering all samples, although specific environmental regions reveal larger errors in some state fields. The ensemble analyses underestimate cold pool depth, and storm inflow meridional winds have a pronounced northerly bias that results from an underprediction of inflow wind speed magnitude. Most bias distributions are Gaussian-like, with a few being bimodal owing to systematic biases of certain state fields and environmental regions.

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Aaron Johnson
,
Xuguang Wang
,
Fanyou Kong
, and
Ming Xue

Abstract

Forecasts generated by the Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms with 1- and 4-km grid spacing using the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting Model (ARW-WRF; ARW1 and ARW4, respectively) for the 2009–11 NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed Spring Experiments are compared and verified. Object-based measures, including average values of object attributes, the object-based threat score (OTS), and the median of maximum interest (MMI) are used for the verification. Verification was first performed against observations at scales resolvable by each forecast model and then performed at scales resolvable by both models by remapping ARW1 to the ARW4 grid (ARW1to4). Thirty-hour forecasts of 1-h accumulated precipitation initialized at 0000 UTC on 22, 36, and 33 days during the spring of 2009, 2010, and 2011, respectively, are evaluated over a domain covering most of the central and eastern United States. ARW1, ARW1to4, and ARW4 all significantly overforecasted the number of objects during diurnal convection maxima. The overforecasts by ARW1 and ARW1to4 were more pronounced than ARW4 during the first convection maximum at 1-h lead time. The average object area and aspect ratio were closer to observations for ARW1 and ARW1to4 than for ARW4. None of the models showed a significant advantage over the others for average orientation angle and centroid location. Increased accuracy for ARW1, compared to ARW4, was statistically significant for the MMI but not the OTS. However, ARW1to4 had similar MMI and OTS as ARW4 at most lead times. These results are consistent with subjective evaluations that the greatest impact of grid spacing is on the smallest resolvable objects.

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Xuguang Wang
,
David Parrish
,
Daryl Kleist
, and
Jeffrey Whitaker

Abstract

An ensemble Kalman filter–variational hybrid data assimilation system based on the gridpoint statistical interpolation (GSI) three-dimensional variational data assimilation (3DVar) system was developed. The performance of the system was investigated using the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Global Forecast System model. Experiments covered a 6-week Northern Hemisphere winter period. Both the control and ensemble forecasts were run at the same, reduced resolution. Operational conventional and satellite observations along with an 80-member ensemble were used. Various configurations of the system including one- or two-way couplings, with zero or nonzero weights on the static covariance, were intercompared and compared with the GSI 3DVar system. It was found that the hybrid system produced more skillful forecasts than the GSI 3DVar system. The inclusion of a static component in the background-error covariance and recentering the analysis ensemble around the variational analysis did not improve the forecast skill beyond the one-way coupled system with zero weights on the static covariance. The one-way coupled system with zero static covariances produced more skillful wind forecasts averaged over the globe than the EnKF at the 1–5-day lead times and more skillful temperature forecasts than the EnKF at the 5-day lead time. Sensitivity tests indicated that the difference may be due to the use of the tangent linear normal mode constraint in the variational system. For the first outer loop, the hybrid system showed a slightly slower (faster) convergence rate at early (later) iterations than the GSI 3DVar system. For the second outer loop, the hybrid system showed a faster convergence.

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Christopher A. Kerr
,
David J. Stensrud
, and
Xuguang Wang

Abstract

Convection intensity and longevity is highly dependent on the surrounding environment. Ensemble sensitivity analysis (ESA), which quantitatively and qualitatively interprets impacts of initial conditions on forecasts, is applied to very short-term (1–2 h) convective-scale forecasts for three cases during the Mesoscale Predictability Experiment (MPEX) in 2013. The ESA technique reveals several dependencies of individual convective storm evolution on their nearby environments. The three MPEX cases are simulated using a previously verified 36-member convection-allowing model (Δx = 3 km) ensemble created via the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. Radar and other conventional observations are assimilated using an ensemble adjustment Kalman filter. The three cases include a mesoscale convective system (MCS) and both nontornadic and tornadic supercells. Of the many ESAs applied in this study, one of the most notable is the positive sensitivity of supercell updraft helicity to increases in both storm inflow region deep and shallow vertical wind shear. This result suggests that larger values of vertical wind shear within the storm inflow yield higher values of storm updraft helicity. Results further show that the supercell storms quickly enhance the environmental vertical wind shear within the storm inflow region. Application of ESA shows that these storm-induced perturbations then affect further storm evolution, suggesting the presence of storm–environment feedback cycles where perturbations affect future mesocyclone strength. Overall, ESA can provide insight into convection dependencies on the near-storm environment.

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Samuel K. Degelia
,
Xuguang Wang
, and
David J. Stensrud

Abstract

Numerical weather prediction models often fail to correctly forecast convection initiation (CI) at night. To improve our understanding of such events, researchers collected a unique dataset of thermodynamic and kinematic remote sensing profilers as part of the Plains Elevated Convection at Night (PECAN) experiment. This study evaluates the impacts made to a nocturnal CI forecast on 26 June 2015 by assimilating a network of atmospheric emitted radiance interferometers (AERIs), Doppler lidars, radio wind profilers, high-frequency rawinsondes, and mobile surface observations using an advanced, ensemble-based data assimilation system. Relative to operational forecasts, assimilating the PECAN dataset improves the timing, location, and orientation of the CI event. Specifically, radio wind profilers and rawinsondes are shown to be the most impactful instrument by enhancing the moisture advection into the region of CI in the forecast. Assimilating thermodynamic profiles collected by the AERIs increases midlevel moisture and improves the ensemble probability of CI in the forecast. The impacts of assimilating the radio wind profilers, AERI retrievals, and rawinsondes remain large throughout forecasting the growth of the CI event into a mesoscale convective system. Assimilating Doppler lidar and surface data only slightly improves the CI forecast by enhancing the convergence along an outflow boundary that partially forces the nocturnal CI event. Our findings suggest that a mesoscale network of profiling and surface instruments has the potential to greatly improve short-term forecasts of nocturnal convection.

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