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Erin A. Jones
Xuguang Wang


The current global operational four-dimensional ensemble-variational (4DEnVar) data assimilation (DA) system at NCEP adopts a background ensemble at a reduced resolution, which restricts the range of spatial scales that the ensemble background error covariance can resolve. A prior study developed a multiresolution ensemble 4DEnVar method and determined that this approach can provide a comparable forecast to an approach using solely high-resolution members, while substantially reducing the computational cost. This study further develops the multiresolution ensemble 4DEnVar approach to allow for a flexible number of low- and high-resolution ensemble members as well as varying localization length scales between the high- and low-resolution ensembles. Three 4DEnVar experiments with the same computational costs are compared. The first experiment has an 80-member high-resolution background ensemble with single-scale optimally tuned localization (SR-High). The second and third experiments utilize the multiresolution background ensembles. One has 130 low-resolution and 40 high-resolution members (MR170) while the other has 180 low-resolution members and 24 high-resolution members (MR204). Both multiresolution ensemble experiments utilize differing localization radii with ensemble resolution. Despite having the same costs, both MR170 and MR204 improves global forecasts and decreases tropical cyclone track errors for up to 5 days’ lead time compared to SR-High. Improvements are most apparent in larger-scale features, such as jet streams and the environmental steering flow of tropical cyclones. Additionally, MR170 outperforms MR204 in terms of global and tropical cyclone track forecasts, demonstrating the value of both increasing sampling at large scales and retaining substantial information at small scales.

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Erin E. Jones
Kevin Garrett
, and
Sid-Ahmed Boukabara


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Global Data Assimilation System/Global Forecast System (GDAS/GFS) was extended to assimilate brightness temperatures from the Sondeur Atmosphérique du Profil d’Humidité Intertropicale par Radiométrie (SAPHIR) passive microwave water vapor sounder on board the Megha-Tropiques satellite. Quality control procedures were developed to assess the SAPHIR data quality for assimilating clear-sky observations over ocean surfaces, and to characterize observation biases and errors. A 6-week impact experiment was performed using the GDAS/GFS data assimilation system. The addition of SAPHIR observations on top of the current global observing system improved analysis and forecast humidity root-mean-square error (RMSE) results at the upper levels of the troposphere by about 6%, mostly at 100 hPa, when verified against European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) analysis, though some degradation to the forecast humidity was seen at 150–200 hPa. The forecast impacts were predominant at earlier lead times between 24 and 96 h. Verification using global radiosonde observations also showed a reduction of the humidity RMSE from 4% to 6% between 500 hPa and the surface when assimilating SAPHIR, while temperature and wind speed RMSEs were reduced by up to 9% and 7% near the tropical tropopause, respectively. Other conventional forecast skill parameters including the 500-hPa geopotential height anomaly correlation showed neutral impact when assimilating SAPHIR.

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