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  • Author or Editor: Eric P. James x
  • Journal of Hydrometeorology x
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Eric M. Kemp
,
Jerry W. Wegiel
,
Sujay V. Kumar
,
James V. Geiger
,
David M. Mocko
,
Jossy P. Jacob
, and
Christa D. Peters-Lidard

Abstract

This article describes a new precipitation analysis algorithm developed by NASA for time-sensitive operations at the United States Air Force. Implemented as part of the Land Information System—a land modeling and data assimilation software framework—this NASA–Air Force Precipitation Analysis (NAFPA) combines numerical weather prediction model outputs with rain gauge measurements and satellite estimates to produce global, gridded 3-h accumulated precipitation fields at approximately 10-km resolution. Input observations are subjected to quality control checks before being used by the Bratseth analysis algorithm that converges to optimal interpolation. NAFPA assimilates up to 3.5 million observations without artificial data thinning or selection. To evaluate this new approach, a multiyear reanalysis is generated and intercompared with eight alternative precipitation products across the contiguous United States, Africa, and the monsoon region of eastern Asia. NAFPA yields superior accuracy and correlation over low-latency (up to 14 h) alternatives (numerical weather prediction and satellite retrievals), and often outperforms high-latency (up to 3.5 months) products, although the details for the latter vary by region and product. The development of NAFPA offers a high-quality, near-real-time product for use in meteorological, land surface, and hydrological research and applications.

Significance Statement

Precipitation is a key input to land modeling systems due to effects on soil moisture and other parts of the hydrologic cycle. It is also of interest to government decision-makers due to impacts on human activities. Here we present a new precipitation analysis based on available near-real-time data. By running the program for prior years and comparing with alternative products, we demonstrate that our analysis provides better accuracy and usually less bias than near-real-time satellite data alone, and better accuracy and correlation than data provided by numerical weather models. Our analysis is also competitive with other products created months after the fact, justifying confidence in using our analysis in near-real-time operations.

Full access
Ayumi Fujisaki-Manome
,
Greg E. Mann
,
Eric J. Anderson
,
Philip Y. Chu
,
Lindsay E. Fitzpatrick
,
Stanley G. Benjamin
,
Eric P. James
,
Tatiana G. Smirnova
,
Curtis R. Alexander
, and
David M. Wright

Abstract

Lake-effect convective snowstorms frequently produce high-impact, hazardous winter weather conditions downwind of the North American Great Lakes. During lake-effect snow events, the lake surfaces can cool rapidly, and in some cases, notable development of ice cover occurs. Such rapid changes in the lake-surface conditions are not accounted for in existing operational weather forecast models, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model, resulting in reduced performance of lake-effect snow forecasts. As a milestone to future implementations in the Great Lakes Operational Forecast System (GLOFS) and HRRR, this study examines the one-way linkage between the hydrodynamic-ice model [the Finite-Volume Community Ocean Model coupled with the unstructured grid version of the Los Alamos Sea Ice Model (FVCOM-CICE), the physical core model of GLOFS] and the atmospheric model [the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model, the physical core model of HRRR]. The realistic representation of lake-surface cooling and ice development or its fractional coverage during three lake-effect snow events was achieved by feeding the FVCOM-CICE simulated lake-surface conditions to WRF (using a regional configuration of HRRR), resulting in the improved simulation of the turbulent heat fluxes over the lakes and resulting snow water equivalent in the downwind areas. This study shows that the one-way coupling is a practical approach that is well suited to the operational environment, as it requires little to no increase in computational resources yet can result in improved forecasts of regional weather and lake conditions.

Open access
Stanley G. Benjamin
,
Tatiana G. Smirnova
,
Eric P. James
,
Liao-Fan Lin
,
Ming Hu
,
David D. Turner
, and
Siwei He

Abstract

Initialization methods are needed for geophysical components of Earth system prediction models. These methods are needed from medium-range to decadal predictions and also for short-range Earth system forecasts in support of safety (e.g., severe weather), economic (e.g., energy), and other applications. Strongly coupled land–atmosphere data assimilation (SCDA), producing balanced initial conditions across the land–atmosphere components, has not yet been introduced to operational numerical weather prediction (NWP) systems. Most NWP systems have evolved separate data assimilation (DA) procedures for the atmosphere versus land/snow system components. This separated method has been classified as a weakly coupled DA system (WCDA). In the NOAA operational short-range weather models, a moderately coupled land–snow–atmosphere assimilation method (MCLDA) has been implemented, a step forward from WCDA toward SCDA. The atmosphere and land (including snow) variables are both updated within the DA using the same set of observations (aircraft, radiosonde, satellite radiances, surface, etc.). Using this assimilation method, land surface state variables have cycled continuously for 6 years since 2015 for the 3-km NOAA HRRR model and with CONUS cycling since 1997. Month-long experiments were conducted with and without MCLDA for both winter and summer seasons using the 13-km Rapid Refresh model with atmosphere (50 levels), soil (9 levels), and snow (up to 2 layers if present) on the same horizontal grid. Improvements were evident for 2-m temperature for all times of day out to 6–12 h for both seasons but stronger in winter. Better temperature forecasts were also shown in the 1000–900-hPa layer corresponding roughly to the boundary layer.

Significance Statement

Accuracy of weather models depends on accurate initial conditions for soil temperature and moisture as well as for the atmosphere itself. This paper describes a moderately coupled data assimilation method that modifies soil conditions based on forecast error corrections indicated by atmospheric observations. This method has been tested for a month-long period in summer and winter and shown to consistently improve short-range forecasts of 2-m temperature and moisture. This coupled data assimilation method is used already in NOAA operational short-range models to improve its prediction skill for clouds, convective storms, and general weather conditions.

Open access