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Claude Girard
,
Robert Benoit
, and
Michel Desgagné

Abstract

The Canadian Mesoscale Compressible Community (MC2) model provided daily forecasts across the Alps at 3-km resolution during the Mesoscale Alpine Programme (MAP) field phase of 1999. Among the results of this endeavor, some have had an immediate impact on MC2 itself as it increasingly became evident that the model was spuriously too sensitive to finescale orographic forcing. The model solves the Euler equations of motion using a semi-implicit semi-Lagrangian scheme in an oblique terrain-following coordinate. To improve model behavior, typical approaches were tried at first. These included a generalization of the coordinate transformation to make the terrain influence decay much more quickly with height as well as the introduction of nonisothermal basic states to diminish the amplitude of numerical truncation errors. The concept of piecewise-constant finite elements was invoked to reduce coding arbitrariness. But it was later pointed out that the problem was very specific and due to a numerical inconsistency. The true height of model grid points is fixed and known in height-based coordinates. Nevertheless, it was discovered that for this semi-Lagrangian scheme to be consistent, the departure height is an unknown that must be obtained in the same manner as the other unknowns.

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Ron McTaggart-Cowan
,
Claude Girard
,
André Plante
, and
Michel Desgagné

Abstract

The importance of stratospheric influences for medium-range numerical weather prediction (NWP) of the troposphere has led to increases in the heights of global model domains at operational centers around the world. Grids now routinely extend to 0.1 hPa (approximately 65 km) in these systems, thereby covering the full depth of the stratosphere and the lower portion of the mesosphere. Increasing the vertical extent of higher-resolution limited-area models (LAMs) nested within the global forecasts is problematic because of the computational cost of additional levels and the possibility of inaccuracy or instability in the high-speed stratospheric jets. An upper-boundary nesting (UBN) technique is developed that allows information from high-topped driving grids to influence the evolution of a lower-topped (~10 hPa) LAM integration in a manner analogous to the treatment of lateral boundary conditions.

A stratospheric vortex displacement event in the winter of 2007 is used to study the effectiveness of the UBN technique. Tropospheric blocking over Europe leads to the development of an amplifying planetary-scale wave in the lower stratosphere that culminates in an anticyclonic wave break over Asia and a marked increase of wave-1 asymmetry. The rapid evolution of stratospheric potential vorticity (PV) is poorly represented in low-topped models, resulting in PV-induced forecast height errors throughout the depth of the troposphere on time scales as short as 2–5 days. Application of the UBN technique is shown to be an effective way for low-topped configurations to benefit from stratospheric predictability without the problems associated with the inclusion of the stratospheric flow in the higher-resolution model domain. The robustness and relative ease of implementation of the UBN technique may make this computationally inexpensive strategy attractive for a wide range of NWP applications.

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Robert Benoit
,
Michel Desgagné
,
Pierre Pellerin
,
Simon Pellerin
,
Yves Chartier
, and
Serge Desjardins

Abstract

This paper attempts to document the developmental research and early mesoscale results of the new fully nonhydrostatic atmospheric model called MC2 (mesoscale compressible community). Its numerical scheme is the semi-implicit semi-Lagrangian approach conceived and demonstrated by Tanguay, Robert, and Laprise. The dominant effort required to become a full-fledged mesoscale model was to connect it properly to a full-scale and evolving physics package; the enlarged scope of a package previously dedicated to hydrostatic pressure coordinate-type models posed some new questions. The one-way nesting is reviewed and particularly the self-nesting or cascade mode; the potential implication of this mode is explored with a stand-alone forecast experiment and related to the other existing approach employing hemispheric or global variable meshes. One of the strong assets of MC2 is its growing community of users and developers. To demonstrate the wideband characteristic of MC2, that is, its applicability to a large range of atmospheric flows, two very different cases are studied: an Atlantic winter East Coast cyclogenesis (meso-α scale, mostly hydrostatic) and a local (meso-γ scale, partly nonhydrostatic) downslope windstorm occuring over unexpectedly modest topography (Cape Breton Highlands of Nova Scotia, Canada).

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Luc Fillion
,
Monique Tanguay
,
Ervig Lapalme
,
Bertrand Denis
,
Michel Desgagne
,
Vivian Lee
,
Nils Ek
,
Zhuo Liu
,
Manon Lajoie
,
Jean-François Caron
, and
Christian Pagé

Abstract

This paper describes the recent changes to the regional data assimilation and forecasting system at the Canadian Meteorological Center. A major aspect is the replacement of the currently operational global variable resolution forecasting approach by a limited-area nested approach. In addition, the variational analysis code has been upgraded to allow limited-area three- and four-dimensional variational data assimilation (3D- and 4DVAR) analysis approaches. As a first implementation step, the constraints were to impose similar background error correlation modeling assumptions, equal computer resources, and the use of the same assimilated data. Both bi-Fourier and spherical-harmonics spectral representations of background error correlations were extensively tested for the large horizontal domain considered for the Canadian regional system. Under such conditions, it is shown that the new regional data assimilation and forecasting system performs as well as the current operational system and it produces slightly better 24-h accumulated precipitation scores as judged from an ensemble of winter and summer cases. Because of the large horizontal extent of the regional domain considered, a spherical-harmonics spectral representation of background error correlations was shown to perform better than the bi-Fourier representation, considering all evaluation scores examined in this study. The latter is more suitable for smaller domains and will be kept for the upcoming use in the kilometric-scale local analysis domains in order to support the Canadian Meteorological Center’s (CMC’s) operations using multiple domains over Canada. The CMC’s new regional system [i.e., a regional limited-area 3DVAR data assimilation system coupled to a limited-area model (REG-LAM3D)] is now undergoing its final evaluations before operational transfer. Important model and data assimilation upgrades are currently under development to fully exploit this new system and are briefly presented.

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Ron McTaggart-Cowan
,
Leo Separovic
,
Rabah Aider
,
Martin Charron
,
Michel Desgagné
,
Pieter L. Houtekamer
,
Danahé Paquin-Ricard
,
Paul A. Vaillancourt
, and
Ayrton Zadra

Abstract

Accurately representing model-based sources of uncertainty is essential for the development of reliable ensemble prediction systems for NWP applications. Uncertainties in discretizations, algorithmic approximations, and diabatic and unresolved processes combine to influence forecast skill in a flow-dependent way. An emerging approach designed to provide a process-level representation of these potential error sources, stochastically perturbed parameterizations (SPP), is introduced into the Canadian operational Global Ensemble Prediction System. This implementation extends the SPP technique beyond its typical application to free parameters in the physics suite by sampling uncertainty both within the dynamical core and at the formulation level using “error models” when multiple physical closures are available. Because SPP perturbs components within the model, internal consistency is ensured and conservation properties are not affected. The full SPP scheme is shown to increase ensemble spread to keep pace with error growth on a global scale. The sensitivity of the ensemble to each independently perturbed “element” is then assessed, with those responsible for the bulk of the response analyzed in more detail. Perturbations to surface exchange coefficients and the turbulent mixing length have a leading impact on near-surface statistics. Aloft, a tropically focused error model representing uncertainty in the advection scheme is found to initiate growing perturbations on the subtropical jet that lead to forecast improvements at higher latitudes. The results of Part I suggest that SPP has the potential to serve as a reliable representation of model uncertainty for ensemble NWP applications.

Significance Statement

Ensemble systems account for the negative impact that uncertainties in prediction models have on forecasts. Here, uncertain model parameters and algorithms are subjected to perturbations representing impact on forecast errors. By initiating error growth within the model calculations, the equally skillful members of the ensemble remain physically realistic and self-consistent, which is not guaranteed by other depictions of model error. This “stochastically perturbed parameterization” technique (SPP) comprises many small error sources, each analyzed in isolation. Each source is related to a limited set of processes, making it possible to determine how the individual perturbations affect the forecast. We conclude that SPP in the Canadian Global Ensemble Forecasting System produces realistic estimates of the impact of model uncertainties on forecast skill.

Open access
Claude Girard
,
André Plante
,
Michel Desgagné
,
Ron McTaggart-Cowan
,
Jean Côté
,
Martin Charron
,
Sylvie Gravel
,
Vivian Lee
,
Alain Patoine
,
Abdessamad Qaddouri
,
Michel Roch
,
Lubos Spacek
,
Monique Tanguay
,
Paul A. Vaillancourt
, and
Ayrton Zadra

Abstract

The Global Environmental Multiscale (GEM) model is the Canadian atmospheric model used for meteorological forecasting at all scales. A limited-area version now also exists. It is a gridpoint model with an implicit semi-Lagrangian iterative space–time integration scheme. In the “horizontal,” the equations are written in spherical coordinates with the traditional shallow atmosphere approximations and are discretized on an Arakawa C grid. In the “vertical,” the equations were originally defined using a hydrostatic-pressure coordinate and discretized on a regular (unstaggered) grid, a configuration found to be particularly susceptible to noise. Among the possible alternatives, the Charney–Phillips grid, with its unique characteristics, and, as the vertical coordinate, log-hydrostatic pressure are adopted. In this paper, an attempt is made to justify these two choices on theoretical grounds. The resulting equations and their vertical discretization are described and the solution method of what is forming the new dynamical core of GEM is presented, focusing on these two aspects.

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