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Tong Zhu, Sid Ahmed Boukabara, and Kevin Garrett


The impacts of both satellite data assimilation (DA) and lateral boundary conditions (LBCs) on the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) Model forecasts of Hurricane Sandy 2012 were assessed. To investigate the impact of satellite DA, experiments were run with and without satellite data assimilated, as well as with all satellite data but excluding Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) Sounder data. To gauge the LBC impact, these experiments were also run with a variety of outer domain (D-1) sizes. The inclusion of satellite DA resulted in analysis fields that better characterized the tropical storm structures including the warm core anomaly and wavenumber-1 asymmetry near the eyewall, and also served to reduce the forecast track errors for Hurricane Sandy. The specific impact of assimilating the GOES Sounder data showed positive impacts on forecasts of the storm minimum sea level pressure. Increasing the D-1 size resulted in increases in the day 4/5 forecast track errors when verified against the best track and the Global Forecast System (GFS) forecast, which dominated any benefits from assimilating an increased volume of satellite observations due to the larger domain. It was found that the LBCs with realistic environmental flow information could provide better constraints on smaller domain forecasts. This study demonstrated that satellite DA can improve the analysis of a hurricane asymmetry, especially in a shear environment, and then lead to a better track forecast, and also emphasized the importance of the LBCs and the challenges associated with the evaluation of satellite data impacts on regional model prediction.

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Ross N. Hoffman, V. Krishna Kumar, Sid-Ahmed Boukabara, Kayo Ide, Fanglin Yang, and Robert Atlas


The summary assessment metric (SAM) method is applied to an array of primary assessment metrics (PAMs) for the deterministic forecasts of three leading numerical weather prediction (NWP) centers for the years 2015–17. The PAMs include anomaly correlation, RMSE, and absolute mean error (i.e., the absolute value of bias) for different forecast times, vertical levels, geographic domains, and variables. SAMs indicate that in terms of forecast skill ECMWF is better than NCEP, which is better than but approximately the same as UKMO. The use of SAMs allows a number of interesting features of the evolution of forecast skill to be observed. All three centers improve over the 3-yr period. NCEP short-term forecast skill substantially increases during the period. Quantitatively, the effect of the 11 May 2016 NCEP upgrade to the four-dimensional ensemble variational data assimilation (4DEnVar) system is a 7.37% increase in the probability of improved skill relative to a randomly chosen forecast metric from 2015 to 2017. This is the largest SAM impact during the study period. However, the observed impacts are within the context of slowly improving forecast skill for operational global NWP as compared to earlier years. Clearly, the systems lagging ECMWF can improve, and there is evidence from SAMs in addition to the 4DEnVar example that improvements in forecast and data assimilation systems are still leading to forecast skill improvements.

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