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Feng Gao, Xiaoyan Zhang, Neil A. Jacobs, Xiang-Yu Huang, Xin Zhang, and Peter P. Childs

Abstract

Tropospheric Airborne Meteorological Data Reporting (TAMDAR) observations are becoming a major data source for numerical weather prediction (NWP) because of the advantages of their high spatiotemporal resolution and humidity measurements. In this study, the estimation of TAMDAR observational errors, and the impacts of TAMDAR observations with new error statistics on short-term forecasts are presented. The observational errors are estimated by a three-way collocated statistical comparison. This method employs collocated meteorological reports from three data sources: TAMDAR, radiosondes, and the 6-h forecast from a Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF). The performance of TAMDAR observations with the new error statistics was then evaluated based on this model, and the WRF Data Assimilation (WRFDA) three-dimensional variational data assimilation (3DVAR) system. The analysis was conducted for both January and June of 2010. The experiments assimilate TAMDAR, as well as other conventional data with the exception of non-TAMDAR aircraft observations, every 6 h, and a 24-h forecast is produced. The standard deviation of the observational error of TAMDAR, which has relatively stable values regardless of season, is comparable to radiosondes for temperature, and slightly smaller than that of a radiosonde for relative humidity. The observational errors in wind direction significantly depend on wind speeds. In general, at low wind speeds, the error in TAMDAR is greater than that of radiosondes; however, the opposite is true for higher wind speeds. The impact of TAMDAR observations on both the 6- and 24-h WRF forecasts during the studied period is positive when using the default observational aircraft weather report (AIREP) error statistics. The new TAMDAR error statistics presented here bring additional improvement over the default error.

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