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A. Kumar, M. Chen, L. Zhang, W. Wang, Y. Xue, C. Wen, L. Marx, and B. Huang


For long-range predictions (e.g., seasonal), it is a common practice for retrospective forecasts (also referred to as the hindcasts) to accompany real-time predictions. The necessity for the hindcasts stems from the fact that real-time predictions need to be calibrated in an attempt to remove the influence of model biases on the predicted anomalies. A fundamental assumption behind forecast calibration is the long-term stationarity of forecast bias that is derived based on hindcasts.

Hindcasts require specification of initial conditions for various components of the prediction system (e.g., ocean, atmosphere) that are generally taken from a long reanalysis. Trends and discontinuities in the reanalysis that are either real or spurious can arise due to several reasons, for example, the changing observing system. If changes in initial conditions were to persist during the forecast, there is a potential for forecast bias to depend over the period it is computed, making calibration even more of a challenging task. In this study such a case is discussed for the recently implemented seasonal prediction system at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), the Climate Forecast System version 2 (CFS.v2).

Based on the analysis of the CFS.v2 for 1981–2009, it is demonstrated that the characteristics of the forecast bias for sea surface temperature (SST) in the equatorial Pacific had a dramatic change around 1999. Furthermore, change in the SST forecast bias, and its relationship to changes in the ocean reanalysis from which the ocean initial conditions for hindcasts are taken is described. Implications for seasonal and other long-range predictions are discussed.

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Edwin K. Schneider, Bohua Huang, Zhengxin Zhu, David G. DeWitt, James L. Kinter III, Ben P. Kirtman, and J. Shukla


A scheme for making seasonal to interannual predictions of El Niño–Southern Oscillation with a coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model that incorporates subsurface ocean measurements in the initial conditions is described. Anomaly initial conditions are used in order to reduce initial shock and climate drift. The ocean component of the prediction model has a nearly global domain, and the coupled model does not employ anomaly coupling or empirical statistical corrections.

Initial conditions for the ocean were obtained from a near-global ocean analysis produced by an ocean data assimilation system. The assimilation system uses a variationally formulated optimal interpolation method to analyze oceanic fields from temperature observations and a first-guess field provided by integrating a global ocean general circulation model. The period of the analysis was 1986 through 1992.

The anomaly initial conditions for the ocean were generated by adding the anomalies of the assimilated fields from the assimilation climatology to the coupled model climatology. A series of 28 1-yr hindcast experiments, four each year for the years 1986–1992, was carried out to test the scheme. The hindcasts show considerable skill in the equatorial Pacific.

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X. M. Chen, S.-H. Chen, J. S. Haase, B. J. Murphy, K.-N. Wang, J. L. Garrison, S. Y. Chen, C. Y. Huang, L. Adhikari, and F. Xie


This study evaluates, for the first time, the impact of airborne global positioning system radio occultation (ARO) observations on a hurricane forecast. A case study was conducted of Hurricane Karl during the Pre-Depression Investigation of Cloud-Systems in the Tropics (PREDICT) field campaign in 2010. The assimilation of ARO data was developed for the three-dimensional variational (3DVAR) analysis system of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model version 3.2. The impact of ARO data on Karl forecasts was evaluated through data assimilation (DA) experiments of local refractivity and nonlocal excess phase (EPH), in which the latter accounts for the integrated horizontal sampling along the signal ray path. The tangent point positions (closest point of an RO ray path to Earth’s surface) drift horizontally, and the drifting distance of ARO data is about 2 to 3 times that of spaceborne RO, which was taken into account in these simulations.

Results indicate that in the absence of other satellite observations, the assimilation of ARO EPH resulted in a larger impact on the analysis than local refractivity did. In particular, the assimilation of ARO observations at the actual tangent point locations resulted in more accurate forecasts of the rapid intensification of the storm. Among all experiments, the best forecast was obtained by assimilating ARO data with the most accurate geometric representation, that is, the use of nonlocal EPH operators with tangent point drift, which reduced the error in the storm’s predicted minimum sea level pressure (SLP) by 43% beyond that of the control experiment.

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J. D. Doyle, D. R. Durran, C. Chen, B. A. Colle, M. Georgelin, V. Grubisic, W. R. Hsu, C. Y. Huang, D. Landau, Y. L. Lin, G. S. Poulos, W. Y. Sun, D. B. Weber, M. G. Wurtele, and M. Xue


Two-dimensional simulations of the 11 January 1972 Boulder, Colorado, windstorm, obtained from 11 diverse nonhydrostatic models, are intercompared with special emphasis on the turbulent breakdown of topographically forced gravity waves, as part of the preparation for the Mesoscale Alpine Programme field phase. The sounding used to initialize the models is more representative of the actual lower stratosphere than those applied in previous simulations. Upper-level breaking is predicted by all models in comparable horizontal locations and vertical layers, which suggests that gravity wave breaking may be quite predictable in some circumstances. Characteristics of the breaking include the following: pronounced turbulence in the 13–16-km and 18–20-km layers positioned beneath a critical level near 21-km, a well-defined upstream tilt with height, and enhancement of upper-level breaking superpositioned above the low-level hydraulic jump. Sensitivity experiments indicate that the structure of the wave breaking was impacted by the numerical dissipation, numerical representation of the horizontal advection, and lateral boundary conditions. Small vertical wavelength variations in the shear and stability above 10 km contributed to significant changes in the structures associated with wave breaking. Simulation of this case is ideal for testing and evaluation of mesoscale numerical models and numerical algorithms because of the complex wave-breaking response.

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