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Wenxue Tong, Gang Li, Juanzhen Sun, Xiaowen Tang, and Ying Zhang


This study examines two strategies for improving the analysis of an hourly update three-dimensional variational data assimilation (3DVAR) system and the subsequent quantitative precipitation forecast (QPF). The first strategy is to assimilate synoptic and radar observations in different steps. This strategy aims to extract both large-scale and convective-scale information from observations typically representing different scales. The second strategy is to add a divergence constraint to the momentum variables in the 3DVAR system. This technique aims at improving the dynamic balance and suppressing noise introduced during the assimilation process. A detailed analysis on how the new techniques impact convective-scale QPF was conducted using a severe storm case over Colorado and Kansas during 8 and 9 August 2008. First, it is demonstrated that, without the new strategies, the QPF initialized with an hourly update analysis performs worse than its 3-hourly counterpart. The implementation of the two-step assimilation and divergence constraint in the hourly update system results in improved QPF throughout most of the 12-h forecast period. The diagnoses of the analysis fields show that the two-step assimilation is able to preserve key convective-scale as well as large-scale structures that are consistent with the development of the real weather system. The divergence constraint is effective in improving the balance between the momentum control variables in the analysis, which leads to less spurious convection and improved QPF scores. The improvements of the new techniques were further verified by eight convective cases in 2014 and shown to be statistically significant.

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Yongming Wang, Shanhong Gao, Gang Fu, Jilin Sun, and Suping Zhang


An extended three-dimensional variational data assimilation (3DVAR) method based on the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) is developed to assimilate satellite-derived humidity from sea fog at its initial stage over the Yellow Sea. The sea fog properties, including its horizontal distribution and thickness, are retrieved empirically from the infrared and visible cloud imageries of the Multifunctional Transport Satellite (MTSAT). Assuming a relative humidity of 100% in fog, the MTSAT-derived humidity is assimilated by the extended 3DVAR assimilation method. Two sea fog cases, one spread widely over the Yellow Sea and the other spread narrowly along the coast, are first studied in detail with a suite of experiments. For the widespread-fog case, the assimilation of MTSAT-derived information significantly improves the forecast of the sea fog area, increasing the probability of detection and equitable threat scores by about 20% and 15%, respectively. The improvement is attributed to a more realistic representation of the marine boundary layer (MBL) and better descriptions of moisture and temperature profiles. For the narrowly spread coastal case, the model completely fails to reproduce the sea fog event without the assimilation of MTSAT-derived humidity. The extended 3DVAR assimilation method is then applied to 10 more sea fog cases to further evaluate its effect on the model simulations. The results reveal that the assimilation of MTSAT-derived humidity not only improves sea fog forecasts but also provides better moisture and temperature structure information in the MBL.

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