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Will McCarty, Mohar Chattopadhyay, and Austin Conaty

Abstract

The Rapid Scatterometer (RapidScat) was built as a low-cost follow-on to the QuikSCAT mission. It flew on the International Space Station (ISS) and provided data from 3 October 2014 to 20 August 2016. These data allowed for the retrieval of surface wind vectors derived from surface roughness estimates measured from multiple coincident azimuth angles. These measurements were unique to the historical scatterometer record in that the ISS flies in a low inclination, non-sun-synchronous orbit. Scatterometry-derived wind vectors have been routinely assimilated in both forward processing and reanalysis systems run at the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO). As the RapidScat retrievals were made available in near–real time, they were assimilated in the forward processing system, and the methods to assimilate and evaluate these retrievals are described. Time series of data statistics are presented first for the near-real-time data assimilated in GMAO forward processing. Second, the full data products provided by the RapidScat team are compared passively to the MERRA-2 reanalysis. Both sets of results show that the root-mean-square (RMS) difference of the observations and the GMAO model background fields increased over the course of the data record. Furthermore, the observations and the backgrounds are shown to be biased for both the zonal and meridional wind components. The retrievals are shown to have had a net forecast error reduction via the forecast sensitivity observation impact (FSOI) metric, which is a quantification of 24-h forecast error reduction, though the impact became neutral as the signal-to-noise ratio of the instrument decreased over its lifespan.

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Will McCarty, Ronald M. Errico, and Ronald Gelaro

Abstract

A successful observing system simulation experiment (OSSE) is fundamentally dependent on the simulation of the global observing system used in the experiment. In many applications, a free-running numerical model simulation, called a nature run, is used as the meteorological truth from which the observations are simulated. To accurately and realistically simulate observations from any nature run, the simulated observations must contain realistic cloud effects representative of the meteorological regimes being sampled. This study provides a validation of the clouds in the Joint OSSE nature run generated at ECMWF. Presented is the methodology used to validate the nature run cloud fraction fields with seasonally aggregated combined CloudSat/Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) cloud geometric profile retrievals and the Wisconsin High Resolution Infrared Radiation Sounder (HIRS) cloud climatology. The results show that the Joint OSSE nature run has a correct vertical distribution of clouds but lacks globally in cloud amount compared to the validation data. The differences between the nature run and validation datasets shown in this study should be considered and accounted for in the generation of the global observing system for use in full OSSE studies.

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Kevin J. Mueller, Junjie Liu, Will McCarty, and Ron Gelaro

Abstract

This study examines the benefit of assimilating cloud motion vector (CMV) wind observations obtained from the Multiangle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) within a Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications, version 2 (MERRA-2), configuration of the Goddard Earth Observing System-5 (GEOS-5) model data assimilation system (DAS). Available in near–real time (NRT) and with a record dating back to 1999, MISR CMVs boast pole-to-pole coverage and geometric height assignment that is complementary to the suite of atmospheric motion vectors (AMVs) included in the MERRA-2 standard. Experiments spanning September–November of 2014 and March–May of 2015 estimated relative MISR CMV impact on the 24-h forecast error reduction with an adjoint-based forecast sensitivity method. MISR CMV were more consistently beneficial and provided twice as large a mean forecast benefit when larger uncertainties were assigned to the less accurate component of the CMV oriented along the MISR satellite ground track, as opposed to when equal uncertainties were assigned to the eastward and northward components as in previous studies. Assimilating only the cross-track component provided 60% of the benefit of both components. When optimally assimilated, MISR CMV proved broadly beneficial throughout the Earth, with the greatest benefit evident at high latitudes where there is a confluence of more frequent CMV coverage and gaps in coverage from other MERRA-2 wind observations. Globally, MISR represented 1.6% of the total forecast benefit, whereas regionally that percentage was as large as 3.7%.

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Zhaoxia Pu, Chaulam Yu, Vijay Tallapragada, Jianjun Jin, and Will McCarty

Abstract

The impact of assimilating Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Microwave Imager (GMI) clear-sky radiance on the track and intensity forecasts of two Atlantic hurricanes during the 2015 and 2016 hurricane seasons is assessed using the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) Model. The GMI clear-sky brightness temperature is assimilated using a Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI)-based hybrid ensemble–variational data assimilation system, which utilizes the Community Radiative Transfer Model (CRTM) as a forward operator for satellite sensors. A two-step bias correction approach, which combines a linear regression procedure and variational bias correction, is used to remove most of the systematic biases prior to data assimilation. Forecast results show that assimilating GMI clear-sky radiance has positive impacts on both track and intensity forecasts, with the extent depending on the phase of hurricane evolution. Forecast verifications against dropsonde soundings and reanalysis data show that assimilating GMI clear-sky radiance, when it does not overlap with overpasses of other microwave sounders, can improve forecasts of both thermodynamic (e.g., temperature and specific humidity) and dynamic variables (geopotential height and wind field), which in turn lead to better track forecasts and a more realistic hurricane inner-core structure. Even when other microwave sounders are present (e.g., AMSU-A, ATMS, MHS, etc.), the assimilation of GMI still reduces temperature forecast errors in the near-hurricane environment, which has a significant impact on the intensity forecast.

Open access
Oreste Reale, Erica L. McGrath-Spangler, Will McCarty, Daniel Holdaway, and Ronald Gelaro

Abstract

A simple adaptive thinning methodology for Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) radiances is evaluated through a combination of observing system experiments (OSEs) and adjoint methodologies. The OSEs are performed with the NASA Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS, version 5) data assimilation and forecast model. In addition, the adjoint-based forecast sensitivity observation impact technique is applied to assess fractional contributions of sensors in different thinning configurations. The adaptive strategy uses a denser AIRS coverage in a moving domain centered around tropical cyclones (TCs) but sparser everywhere else. The OSEs consist of two sets of data assimilation runs that cover the period from 1 September to 10 November 2014, with the first 20 days discarded for spinup. Both sets assimilate all conventional and satellite observations used operationally. In addition, one ingests clear-sky AIRS radiances, the other cloud-cleared radiances, each comprising multiple thinning strategies. Daily 7-day forecasts are initialized from all these analyses and evaluated with a focus on TCs over the Atlantic and Pacific. Evidence is provided on the effectiveness of this simple TC-centered adaptive radiance thinning strategy, in full agreement with previous theoretical studies. Specifically, global skill increases, and tropical cyclone representation is substantially improved. The improvement is particularly strong when cloud-cleared radiances are assimilated. Finally, the article suggests that cloud-cleared radiances, if thinned more aggressively than the currently used clear-sky radiances, could successfully replace them with large improvements in TC forecasting and no loss of global skill.

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Min-Jeong Kim, Jianjun Jin, Amal El Akkraoui, Will McCarty, Ricardo Todling, Wei Gu, and Ronald Gelaro

Abstract

Satellite radiance observations combine global coverage with high temporal and spatial resolution, and bring vital information to NWP analyses especially in areas where conventional data are sparse. However, most satellite observations that are actively assimilated have been limited to clear-sky conditions due to difficulties associated with accounting for non-Gaussian error characteristics, nonlinearity, and the development of appropriate observation operators for cloud- and precipitation-affected satellite radiance data. This article provides an overview of the development of the Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI) configurations to assimilate all-sky data from microwave imagers such as the GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) in the NASA Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS). Electromagnetic characteristics associated with their wavelengths allow microwave imager data to be highly sensitive to precipitation. Therefore, all-sky data assimilation efforts described in this study are primarily focused on utilizing these data in precipitating regions. To utilize data in cloudy and precipitating regions, state and analysis variables have been added for ice cloud, liquid cloud, rain, and snow. This required enhancing the observation operator to simulate radiances in heavy precipitation, including frozen precipitation. Background error covariances in both the central analysis and EnKF analysis in the GEOS hybrid 4D-EnVar system have been expanded to include hydrometeors. In addition, the bias correction scheme was enhanced to reduce biases associated with thick clouds and precipitation. The results from single observation experiments demonstrate the capability of assimilating all-sky microwave brightness temperature data in GEOS both when the model forecast produces excessive precipitation and too little precipitation. Additional experiments show that hydrometeors and dynamic variables such as winds and pressure are adjusted in physically consistent ways in response to the assimilation.

Open access
Isaac Moradi, K. Franklin Evans, Will McCarty, Marangelly Cordero-Fuentes, Ronald Gelaro, and Robert A. Black

Abstract

A novel Bayesian Monte Carlo integration (BMCI) technique was developed to retrieve geophysical variables from satellite microwave radiometer data in the presence of tropical cyclones. The BMCI technique includes three steps: generating a stochastic database, simulating satellite brightness temperatures using a radiative transfer model, and retrieving geophysical variables such as profiles of temperature, relative humidity, and cloud liquid and ice water content from real observations. The technique also provides uncertainty estimates for each retrieval and can output the error covariance matrix of selected parameters. The measurements from the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) on board Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) and the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Microwave Imager (GMI) were used as input. A new technique was developed to correct the ATMS and GMI observations for the beam-filling effect, which is due to small-scale variability of precipitation and clouds when compared with the instrument footprint and also the nonlinear relation between the brightness temperature and precipitation. In addition, the assimilation of the BMCI retrievals into the NASA GEOS model is discussed for Hurricane Maria. The results show that assimilating the BMCI retrievals can influence the dynamical features of the cyclone, including a stronger warm core, a symmetric eye, and vertically aligned wind columns. Two possible factors that may limit the impact of the BMCI retrievals include 1) the resolution of the model (about 25 km), which was too coarse to show the potential of the BMCI data in improving the representation of tropical storms in the model forecast, and 2) the data assimilation system not being able to consider vertically correlated observation errors.

Open access
Wayman E. Baker, Robert Atlas, Carla Cardinali, Amy Clement, George D. Emmitt, Bruce M. Gentry, R. Michael Hardesty, Erland Källén, Michael J. Kavaya, Rolf Langland, Zaizhong Ma, Michiko Masutani, Will McCarty, R. Bradley Pierce, Zhaoxia Pu, Lars Peter Riishojgaard, James Ryan, Sara Tucker, Martin Weissmann, and James G. Yoe

The three-dimensional global wind field is the most important remaining measurement needed to accurately assess the dynamics of the atmosphere. Wind information in the tropics, high latitudes, and stratosphere is particularly deficient. Furthermore, only a small fraction of the atmosphere is sampled in terms of wind profiles. This limits our ability to optimally specify initial conditions for numerical weather prediction (NWP) models and our understanding of several key climate change issues.

Because of its extensive wind measurement heritage (since 1968) and especially the rapid recent technology advances, Doppler lidar has reached a level of maturity required for a space-based mission. The European Space Agency (ESA)'s Atmospheric Dynamics Mission Aeolus (ADM-Aeolus) Doppler wind lidar (DWL), now scheduled for launch in 2015, will be a major milestone.

This paper reviews the expected impact of DWL measurements on NWP and climate research, measurement concepts, and the recent advances in technology that will set the stage for space-based deployment. Forecast impact experiments with actual airborne DWL measurements collected over the North Atlantic in 2003 and assimilated into the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) operational model are a clear indication of the value of lidar-measured wind profiles. Airborne DWL measurements collected over the western Pacific in 2008 and assimilated into both the ECMWF and U.S. Navy operational models support the earlier findings.

These forecast impact experiments confirm observing system simulation experiments (OSSEs) conducted over the past 25–30 years. The addition of simulated DWL wind observations in recent OSSEs performed at the Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation (JCSDA) leads to a statistically significant increase in forecast skill.

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Ronald Gelaro, Will McCarty, Max J. Suárez, Ricardo Todling, Andrea Molod, Lawrence Takacs, Cynthia A. Randles, Anton Darmenov, Michael G. Bosilovich, Rolf Reichle, Krzysztof Wargan, Lawrence Coy, Richard Cullather, Clara Draper, Santha Akella, Virginie Buchard, Austin Conaty, Arlindo M. da Silva, Wei Gu, Gi-Kong Kim, Randal Koster, Robert Lucchesi, Dagmar Merkova, Jon Eric Nielsen, Gary Partyka, Steven Pawson, William Putman, Michele Rienecker, Siegfried D. Schubert, Meta Sienkiewicz, and Bin Zhao

Abstract

The Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications, version 2 (MERRA-2), is the latest atmospheric reanalysis of the modern satellite era produced by NASA’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO). MERRA-2 assimilates observation types not available to its predecessor, MERRA, and includes updates to the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) model and analysis scheme so as to provide a viable ongoing climate analysis beyond MERRA’s terminus. While addressing known limitations of MERRA, MERRA-2 is also intended to be a development milestone for a future integrated Earth system analysis (IESA) currently under development at GMAO. This paper provides an overview of the MERRA-2 system and various performance metrics. Among the advances in MERRA-2 relevant to IESA are the assimilation of aerosol observations, several improvements to the representation of the stratosphere including ozone, and improved representations of cryospheric processes. Other improvements in the quality of MERRA-2 compared with MERRA include the reduction of some spurious trends and jumps related to changes in the observing system and reduced biases and imbalances in aspects of the water cycle. Remaining deficiencies are also identified. Production of MERRA-2 began in June 2014 in four processing streams and converged to a single near-real-time stream in mid-2015. MERRA-2 products are accessible online through the NASA Goddard Earth Sciences Data Information Services Center (GES DISC).

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