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Christopher A. Hiemstra
Glen E. Liston
Roger A. Pielke Sr.
Daniel L. Birkenheuer
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Steven C. Albers


Meteorological forcing data are necessary to drive many of the spatial models used to simulate atmospheric, biological, and hydrological processes. Unfortunately, many domains lack sufficient meteorological data and available point observations are not always suitable or reliable for landscape or regional applications. NOAA’s Local Analysis and Prediction System (LAPS) is a meteorological assimilation tool that employs available observations (meteorological networks, radar, satellite, soundings, and aircraft) to generate a spatially distributed, three-dimensional representation of atmospheric features and processes. As with any diagnostic representation, it is important to ascertain how LAPS outputs deviate from a variety of independent observations. A number of surface observations exist that are not used in the LAPS system, and they were employed to assess LAPS surface state variable and precipitation analysis performance during two consecutive years (1 September 2001–31 August 2003). LAPS assimilations accurately depicted temperature and relative humidity values. The ability of LAPS to represent wind speed was satisfactory overall, but accuracy declined with increasing elevation. Last, precipitation estimates performed by LAPS were irregular and reflected inherent difficulties in measuring and estimating precipitation.

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