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Aaron Johnson
,
Xuguang Wang
,
Yongming Wang
,
Anthony Reinhart
,
Adam J. Clark
, and
Israel L. Jirak

Abstract

An object-based probabilistic (OBPROB) forecasting framework is developed and applied, together with a more traditional neighborhood-based framework, to convection-permitting ensemble forecasts produced by the University of Oklahoma (OU) Multiscale data Assimilation and Predictability (MAP) laboratory during the 2017 and 2018 NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed Spring Forecasting Experiments. Case studies from 2017 are used for parameter tuning and demonstration of methodology, while the 2018 ensemble forecasts are systematically verified. The 2017 case study demonstrates that the OBPROB forecast product can provide a unique tool to operational forecasters that includes convective-scale details such as storm mode and morphology, which are typically lost in neighborhood-based methods, while also providing quantitative ensemble probabilistic guidance about those details in a more easily interpretable format than the more commonly used paintball plots. The case study also demonstrates that objective verification metrics reveal different relative performance of the ensemble at different forecast lead times depending on the verification framework (i.e., object versus neighborhood) because of the different features emphasized by object- and neighborhood-based evaluations. Both frameworks are then used for a systematic evaluation of 26 forecasts from the spring of 2018. The OBPROB forecast verification as configured in this study shows less sensitivity to forecast lead time than the neighborhood forecasts. Both frameworks indicate a need for probabilistic calibration to improve ensemble reliability. However, lower ensemble discrimination for OBPROB than the neighborhood-based forecasts is also noted.

Free access
Xuguang Wang
,
Thomas M. Hamill
,
Jeffrey S. Whitaker
, and
Craig H. Bishop

Abstract

A hybrid ensemble transform Kalman filter (ETKF)–optimum interpolation (OI) analysis scheme is described and compared with an ensemble square root filter (EnSRF) analysis scheme. A two-layer primitive equation model was used under perfect-model assumptions. A simplified observation network was used, and the OI method utilized a static background error covariance constructed from a large inventory of historical forecast errors. The hybrid scheme updated the ensemble mean using a hybridized ensemble and static background-error covariance. The ensemble perturbations in the hybrid scheme were updated by the ETKF scheme. The EnSRF ran parallel data assimilation cycles for each member and serially assimilated the observations. The EnSRF background-error covariance was estimated fully from the ensemble.

For 50-member ensembles, the analyses from the hybrid scheme were as accurate or nearly as accurate as those from the EnSRF, depending on the norm. For 20-member ensembles, the analyses from the hybrid scheme were more accurate than analyses from the EnSRF under certain norms. Both hybrid and EnSRF analyses were more accurate than the analyses from the OI. Further reducing the ensemble size to five members, the EnSRF exhibited filter divergence, whereas the analyses from the hybrid scheme were still better than those updated by the OI. Additionally, the hybrid scheme was less prone to spurious gravity wave activity than the EnSRF, especially when the ensemble size was small. Maximal growth in the ETKF ensemble perturbation space exceeded that in the EnSRF ensemble perturbation space. The relationship of the ETKF ensemble variance to the analysis error variance, a measure of a spread–skill relationship, was similar to that of the EnSRF ensemble. The hybrid scheme can be implemented in a reasonably straightforward manner in the operational variational frameworks, and the computational cost of the hybrid is expected to be much less than the EnSRF in the operational settings.

Full access
Aaron Johnson
,
Xuguang Wang
,
Jacob R. Carley
,
Louis J. Wicker
, and
Christopher Karstens

Abstract

A GSI-based data assimilation (DA) system, including three-dimensional variational assimilation (3DVar) and ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF), is extended to the multiscale assimilation of both meso- and synoptic-scale observation networks and convective-scale radar reflectivity and velocity observations. EnKF and 3DVar are systematically compared in this multiscale context to better understand the impacts of differences between the DA techniques on the analyses at multiple scales and the subsequent convective-scale precipitation forecasts.

Averaged over 10 diverse cases, 8-h precipitation forecasts initialized using GSI-based EnKF are more skillful than those using GSI-based 3DVar, both with and without storm-scale radar DA. The advantage from radar DA persists for ~5 h using EnKF, but only ~1 h using 3DVar.

A case study of an upscale growing MCS is also examined. The better EnKF-initialized forecast is attributed to more accurate analyses of both the mesoscale environment and the storm-scale features. The mesoscale location and structure of a warm front is more accurately analyzed using EnKF than 3DVar. Furthermore, storms in the EnKF multiscale analysis are maintained during the subsequent forecast period. However, storms in the 3DVar multiscale analysis are not maintained and generate excessive cold pools. Therefore, while the EnKF forecast with radar DA remains better than the forecast without radar DA throughout the forecast period, the 3DVar forecast quality is degraded by radar DA after the first hour. Diagnostics revealed that the inferior analysis at mesoscales and storm scales for the 3DVar is primarily attributed to the lack of flow dependence and cross-variable correlation, respectively, in the 3DVar static background error covariance.

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Xuguang Wang
,
Hristo G. Chipilski
,
Craig H. Bishop
,
Elizabeth Satterfield
,
Nancy Baker
, and
Jeffrey S. Whitaker

Abstract

A new multiscale, ensemble-based data assimilation (DA) method, multiscale local gain form ensemble transform Kalman filter (MLGETKF), is introduced. MLGETKF allows simultaneous update of multiple scales for both the ensemble mean and perturbations through assimilating all observations at once. MLGETKF performs DA in independent local volumes, which lends the algorithm a high degree of computational scalability. The multiscale analysis is enabled through the rapid creation of many pseudoensemble perturbations via a multiscale ensemble modulation procedure. The Kalman gain that is used to update the raw background ensemble mean and perturbations is based on this modulated ensemble, which intrinsically includes multiscale model space localization. Experiments with a noncycled statistical model show that the full background covariance estimated by MLGETKF more accurately resembles the shape of the true covariance than a scale-unaware localization. The mean analysis from the best-performing MLGETKF is statistically significantly more accurate than the best-performing scale-unaware LGETKF. The accuracy of the MLGETKF analysis is more sensitive to small-scale band localization radius than large-scale band. MLGETKF is further examined in a cycling DA context with a surface quasigeostrophic model. The root-mean-square potential temperature analysis error of the best-performing MLGETKF is 17.2% lower than that of the best-performing LGETKF. MLGETKF reduces analysis errors measured in kinetic energy spectra space by 30%–80% relative to LGETKF with the largest improvement at large scales. MLGETKF deterministic and ensemble mean forecasts are more accurate than LGETKF for full and large scales up to 5–6-day lead time and for small scales up to 3–4-day lead time, gaining ~12 h–1 day of predictability.

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Junjun Hu
,
Nusrat Yussouf
,
David D. Turner
,
Thomas A. Jones
, and
Xuguang Wang

Abstract

Due to lack of high spatial and temporal resolution boundary layer (BL) observations, the rapid changes in the near-storm environment are not well represented in current convective-scale numerical models. Better representation of the near-storm environment in model initial conditions will likely further improve the forecasts of severe convective weather. This study investigates the impact of assimilating high temporal resolution BL retrievals from two ground-based remote sensing instruments for short-term forecasts of a tornadic supercell event on 13 July 2015 during the Plains Elevated Convection At Night field campaign. The instruments are the Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer (AERI) that retrieves thermodynamic profiles and the Doppler lidar (DL) that measures horizontal wind profiles. Six sets of convective-scale ensemble data assimilation (DA) experiments are performed: two control experiments that assimilate conventional and WSR-88D radar observations using either relaxation-to-prior-spread (RTPS) or the adaptive inflation (AI) technique and four experiments similar to the control but that assimilate either DL or AERI or both observations in addition to all other observations that are in the control experiments. Results indicate a positive impact of AERI and DL observations in forecasting convective initiation (CI) and early evolution of the supercell storm. The experiment that employs the AI technique to assimilate BL observations in DA enhances the humidity in the near-storm environment and low-level convergence, which in turn helps forecasting CI. The forecast improvement is most pronounced during the first ~3 h. Results also indicate that the AERI observations have a larger impact compared to DL in predicting CI.

Full access
Yongjie Huang
,
Xuguang Wang
,
Christopher Kerr
,
Andrew Mahre
,
Tian-You Yu
, and
David Bodine

Abstract

Phased-array radar (PAR) technology offers the flexibility of sampling the storm and clear-air regions with different update times. As such, the radial velocity from clear-air regions, typically with a lower signal-to-noise ratio, can be measured more accurately. In this work, observing system simulation experiments are conducted to explore the potential value of assimilating clear-air radial velocity observations to improve numerical prediction of supercell thunderstorms. Synthetic PAR observations of a splitting supercell are assimilated at different life cycle stages using an ensemble Kalman filter. Results show that assimilating environmental clear-air radial velocity can reduce wind errors in the near-storm environment and within the precipitation region. Improvements in the forecast are seen at different stages, especially for the forecast after 30 min. After assimilating clear-air radial velocity observations, the probabilities of updraft helicity and precipitation within the corresponding swaths of the truth simulation increase up to 30%–40%. Additional diagnostics suggest that the more accurate track forecast, stronger vertical motion, and better-maintained supercell can be attributed to the better analysis and prediction of the mean environmental winds and linear and nonlinear dynamic forces. Consequently, assimilating clear-air radial velocity produces accurate storm structure (rotating updrafts), updraft size, and storm track, and improves the surface accumulated precipitation forecast. The performance of forecasts with a higher frequency of assimilating clear-air radial velocity does not show systematic improvement. These results highlight the potential of assimilating clear-air radial velocity observations to improve numerical weather prediction forecasts of supercell thunderstorms.

Free access
Jeffrey D. Duda
,
Xuguang Wang
,
Fanyou Kong
,
Ming Xue
, and
Judith Berner

Abstract

The efficacy of a stochastic kinetic energy backscatter (SKEB) scheme to improve convection-allowing probabilistic forecasts was studied. While SKEB has been explored for coarse, convection-parameterizing models, studies of SKEB for convective scales are limited. Three ensembles were compared. The SKMP ensemble used mixed physics with the SKEB scheme, whereas the MP ensemble was configured identically but without using the SKEB scheme. The SK ensemble used the SKEB scheme with no physics diversity. The experiment covered May 2013 over the central United States on a 4-km Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model domain.

The SKEB scheme was successful in increasing the spread in all fields verified, especially mid- and upper-tropospheric fields. Additionally, the rmse of the ensemble mean was maintained or reduced, in some cases significantly. Rank histograms in the SKMP ensemble were flatter than those in the MP ensemble, indicating the SKEB scheme produces a less underdispersive forecast distribution. Some improvement was seen in probabilistic precipitation forecasts, particularly when examining Brier scores. Verification against surface observations agree with verification against Rapid Refresh (RAP) model analyses, showing that probabilistic forecasts for 2-m temperature, 2-m dewpoint, and 10-m winds were also improved using the SKEB scheme. The SK ensemble gave competitive forecasts for some fields. The SK ensemble had reduced spread compared to the MP ensemble at the surface due to the lack of physics diversity.

These results suggest the potential utility of mixed physics plus the SKEB scheme in the design of convection-allowing ensemble forecasts.

Full access
Samuel K. Degelia
,
Xuguang Wang
,
David J. Stensrud
, and
David D. Turner

Abstract

Nocturnal convection is often initiated by mechanisms that cannot be easily observed within the large gaps between rawinsondes or by conventional surface networks. To improve forecasts of such events, we evaluate the systematic impact of assimilating a collocated network of high-frequency, ground-based thermodynamic and kinematic profilers collected as part of the 2015 Plains Elevated Convection At Night (PECAN) experiment. For 13 nocturnal convection initiation (CI) events, we find small but consistent improvements when assimilating thermodynamic observations collected by Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometers (AERIs). Through midlevel cooling and moistening, assimilating the AERIs increases the fractions skill score (FSS) for both nocturnal CI and precipitation forecasts. The AERIs also improve various contingency metrics for CI forecasts. Assimilating composite kinematic datasets collected by Doppler lidars and radar wind profilers (RWPs) results in slight degradations to the forecast quality, including decreases in the FSS and traditional contingency metrics. The impacts from assimilating thermodynamic and kinematic profilers often counteract each other, such that we find little impact on the detection of CI when both are assimilated. However, assimilating both datasets improves various properties of the CI events that are successfully detected (timing, distance, shape, etc.). We also find large variability in the impact of assimilating these remote sensing profilers, likely due to the number of observing sites and the strength of the synoptic forcing for each case. We hypothesize that the lack of flow-dependent methods to diagnose observation errors likely contributes to degradations in forecast skill for many cases, especially when assimilating kinematic profilers.

Free access
Xuguang Wang
,
Thomas M. Hamill
,
Jeffrey S. Whitaker
, and
Craig H. Bishop

Abstract

A hybrid analysis scheme is compared with an ensemble square root filter (EnSRF) analysis scheme in the presence of model errors as a follow-up to a previous perfect-model comparison. In the hybrid scheme, the ensemble perturbations are updated by the ensemble transform Kalman filter (ETKF) and the ensemble mean is updated with a hybrid ensemble and static background-error covariance. The experiments were conducted with a two-layer primitive equation model. The true state was a T127 simulation. Data assimilation experiments were conducted at T31 resolution (3168 complex spectral coefficients), assimilating imperfect observations drawn from the T127 nature run. By design, the magnitude of the truncation error was large, which provided a test on the ability of both schemes to deal with model error. Additive noise was used to parameterize model errors in the background ensemble for both schemes. In the first set of experiments, additive noise was drawn from a large inventory of historical forecast errors; in the second set of experiments, additive noise was drawn from a large inventory of differences between forecasts and analyses. The static covariance was computed correspondingly from the two inventories. The hybrid analysis was statistically significantly more accurate than the EnSRF analysis. The improvement of the hybrid over the EnSRF was smaller when differences of forecasts and analyses were used to form the random noise and the static covariance. The EnSRF analysis was more sensitive to the size of the ensemble than the hybrid. A series of tests was conducted to understand why the EnSRF performed worse than the hybrid. It was shown that the inferior performance of the EnSRF was likely due to the sampling error in the estimation of the model-error covariance in the mean update and the less-balanced EnSRF initial conditions resulting from the extra localizations used in the EnSRF.

Full access
Yongjie Huang
,
Xuguang Wang
,
Andrew Mahre
,
Tian-You Yu
, and
David Bodine

Abstract

Phased-array radar (PAR) technology can potentially provide high-quality clear-air radial velocity observations at a high spatiotemporal resolution, usually ∼1 min or less. These observations are hypothesized to partially fill the gaps in current operational observing systems with relatively coarse-resolution surface mesonet observations and the lack of high-resolution upper-air observations especially in planetary boundary layer. In this study, observing system simulation experiments are conducted to investigate the potential value of assimilating PAR observations of clear-air radial velocity to improve the forecast of convection initiation (CI) along small-scale boundary layer convergence zones. Both surface-based and elevated CIs driven by meso-γ-scale boundary layer convergence are tested. An ensemble Kalman filter method is used to assimilate synthetic surface mesonet observations and PAR clear-air radial velocity observations. Results show that assimilating only surface mesonet observations fails to predict either surface-based or elevated CI processes. Assimilating clear-air radial velocity observations in addition to surface mesonet observations can capture both surface-based and elevated CI processes successfully. Such an improvement benefits from the better analyses of boundary layer convergence, resulting from the assimilation of clear-air radial velocity observations. Additional improvement is observed with more frequent assimilation. Assimilating clear-air radial velocity observations only from the one radar results in analysis biases of cross-beam winds and CI location biases, and assimilating additional radial velocity observations from the second radar at an appropriate position can reduce these biases while sacrificing the CI timing. These results suggest the potential of assimilating clear-air radial velocity observations from PAR to improve the forecast of CI processes along boundary layer convergence zones.

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