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Youngsun Jung, Ming Xue, and Guifu Zhang

Abstract

The impacts of polarimetric radar data on the estimation of uncertain microphysical parameters are investigated through observing system simulation experiments when the effects of uncertain parameters on the observation operators are also considered. Five fundamental microphysical parameters (i.e., the intercept parameters of rain, snow, and hail and the bulk densities of snow and hail) are estimated individually or collectively using the ensemble square root Kalman filter. The differential reflectivity Z DR, specific differential phase K DP, and radar reflectivity at horizontal polarization ZH are used individually or in combinations for the parameter estimation while the radial velocity and ZH are used for the state estimation. In the process, the parameter values estimated in the previous analysis cycles are used in the forecast model and in observation operators in the ensuing assimilation cycle. Analyses are first performed that examine the sensitivity of various observations to the microphysical parameters with and without observation operator error. The results are used to help interpret the filter behaviors in parameter estimation. The experiments in which either a single or all five parameters contain initial errors reveal difficulties in estimating certain parameters using ZH alone when observation operator error is involved. Additional polarimetric measurements are found to be beneficial for both parameter and state estimation in general. It is found that the polarimetric data are more helpful when the parameter estimation is not very successful with ZH alone. Between Z DR and K DP, K DP is found to produce larger positive impacts on parameter estimation in general while Z DR is more useful in the estimation of the intercept parameter of hail. In the experiments that attempt to correct errors in all five parameters, the filter fails to correctly estimate the snow intercept parameter and the density with or without polarimetric data, seemingly due to the small sensitivity of the observations to these parameters and complications involving the observation operator error. When these two snow parameters are not corrected during the estimation process, the estimations of the other three parameters and of all of the state variables are significantly improved and the positive impacts of polarimetric data are larger than that of a five-parameter estimation. These results reveal the significant complexity of the estimation problem for a highly nonlinear system and the need for careful sensitivity analysis. The problem is potentially more challenging with real-data cases when unknown sources of model errors are inevitable.

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Youngsun Jung, Ming Xue, and Mingjing Tong

Abstract

The performance of ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) analysis is investigated for the tornadic supercell on 29–30 May 2004 in Oklahoma using a dual-moment (DM) bulk microphysics scheme in the Advanced Regional Prediction System (ARPS) model. The comparison of results using single-moment (SM) and DM microphysics schemes evaluates the benefits of using one over the other during storm analysis. Observations from a single operational Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) are assimilated and a polarimetric WSR-88D in Norman, Oklahoma (KOUN), is used to assess the quality of the analysis.

Analyzed reflectivity and radial velocity in the SM and DM experiments compare favorably with independent radar observations in general. However, simulated polarimetric signatures obtained from analyses using a DM scheme agree significantly better with polarimetric signatures observed by KOUN in terms of the general structure, location, and intensity of the signatures than those generated from analyses using an SM scheme.

These results demonstrate for the first time for a real supercell storm that EnKF data assimilation using a numerical model with an adequate microphysics scheme (i.e., a scheme that predicts at least two moments of the hydrometeor size distributions) is capable of producing polarimetric radar signatures similar to those seen in observations without directly assimilating polarimetric data. In such cases, the polarimetric data also serve as completely independent observations for the verification purposes.

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Nathan Snook, Ming Xue, and Youngsun Jung

Abstract

In recent studies, the authors have successfully demonstrated the ability of an ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF), assimilating real radar observations, to produce skillful analyses and subsequent ensemble-based probabilistic forecasts for a tornadic mesoscale convective system (MCS) that occurred over Oklahoma and Texas on 9 May 2007. The current study expands upon this prior work, performing experiments for this case on a larger domain using a nested-grid EnKF, which accounts for mesoscale uncertainties through the initial ensemble and lateral boundary condition perturbations. In these new experiments, conventional observations (including surface, wind profiler, and upper-air observations) are assimilated in addition to the WSR-88D and the Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) radar data used in the previous studies, better representing meso- and convective-scale features. The relative impacts of conventional and radar data on analyses and forecasts are examined, and biases within the ensemble are investigated.

The new experiments produce a substantially improved forecast, including better representation of the convective lines of the MCS. Assimilation of radar data substantially improves the ensemble precipitation forecast. Assimilation of conventional data together with radar observations substantially improves the forecast of near-surface mesovortices within the MCS, improves forecasts of surface temperature and dewpoint, and imparts a slight but noticeable improvement to short-term precipitation forecasts. Furthermore, ensemble analyses and forecasts are found to be sensitive to the localization radius applied to conventional data within the EnKF.

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Youngsun Jung, Guifu Zhang, and Ming Xue

Abstract

A radar simulator for polarimetric radar variables, including reflectivities at horizontal and vertical polarizations, the differential reflectivity, and the specific differential phase, has been developed. This simulator serves as a test bed for developing and testing forward observation operators of polarimetric radar variables that are needed when directly assimilating these variables into storm-scale numerical weather prediction (NWP) models, using either variational or ensemble-based assimilation methods. The simulator takes as input the results of high-resolution NWP model simulations with ice microphysics and produces simulated polarimetric radar data that may also contain simulated errors. It is developed based on calculations of electromagnetic wave propagation and scattering at the S band of wavelength 10.7 cm in a hydrometeor-containing atmosphere. The T-matrix method is used for the scattering calculation of raindrops and the Rayleigh scattering approximation is applied to snow and hail particles. The polarimetric variables are expressed as functions of the hydrometeor mixing ratios as well as their corresponding drop size distribution parameters and densities. The presence of wet snow and wet hail in the melting layer is accounted for by using a new, relatively simple melting model that defines the water fraction in the melting snow or hail. The effect of varying density due to the melting snow or hail is also included. Vertical cross sections and profiles of the polarimetric variables for a simulated mature multicellular squall-line system and a supercell storm show that polarimetric signatures of the bright band in the stratiform region and those associated with deep convection are well captured by the simulator.

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Nathan Snook, Ming Xue, and Youngsun Jung

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An ensemble of 10 forecasts is produced for the 20 May 2013 Newcastle–Moore EF5 tornado and its parent supercell using a horizontal grid spacing of 50 m, nested within ensemble forecasts with 500-m horizontal grid spacing initialized via ensemble Kalman filter data assimilation of surface and radar observations. Tornadic circulations are predicted in all members, though the intensity, track, and longevity of the predicted tornado vary substantially among members. Overall, tornadoes in the ensemble forecasts persisted longer and moved to the northeast faster than the observed tornado. In total, 8 of the 10 ensemble members produce tornadoes with winds corresponding to EF2 intensity or greater, with maximum instantaneous near-surface horizontal wind speeds of up to 130 m s−1 and pressure drops of up to 120 hPa; values similar to those reported in observational studies of intense tornadoes. The predicted intense tornadoes all acquire well-defined two-cell vortex structure, and exhibit features common in observed tornadic storms, including a weak-echo notch and low reflectivity within the mesocyclone. Ensemble-based probabilistic tornado forecasts based upon near-surface wind and/or vorticity fields at 10 m above the surface produce skillful forecasts of the tornado in terms of area under the relative operating characteristic curve, with probability swaths extending along and to the northeast of the observed tornado path. When probabilistic swaths of 0–3- and 2–5-km updraft helicity are compared to the swath of wind at 10 m above the surface exceeding 29 m s−1, a slight northwestward bias is present, although the pathlength, orientation, and the placement of minima and maxima show very strong agreement.

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Nathan Snook, Ming Xue, and Youngsun Jung

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This study examines the ability of a storm-scale numerical weather prediction (NWP) model to predict precipitation and mesovortices within a tornadic mesoscale convective system that occurred over Oklahoma on 8–9 May 2007, when the model is initialized from ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) analyses including data from four Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) X-band and five Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) S-band radars. Ensemble forecasts are performed and probabilistic forecast products generated, focusing on prediction of radar reflectivity (a proxy of quantitative precipitation) and mesovortices (an indication of tornado potential).

Assimilating data from both the CASA and WSR-88D radars for the ensemble and using a mixed-microphysics ensemble during data assimilation produces the best probabilistic mesovortex forecast. The use of multiple microphysics schemes within the ensemble aims to address at least partially the model physics uncertainty and effectively plays a role of flow-dependent inflation (in precipitation regions) during EnKF data assimilation. The ensemble predicts with high probability (approximately 0.65) the near-surface mesovortex associated with the first of three reported tornadoes. Though a bias toward stronger precipitation is noted in the ensemble forecasts, all experiments produce skillful probabilistic forecasts of radar reflectivity on a 0–3-h time scale as evaluated by multiple probabilistic verification metrics. These results suggest that both the inclusion of CASA radar data and use of a mixed-microphysics ensemble during EnKF data assimilation positively impact the skill of 2–3-h ensemble forecasts of mesovortices, despite having little impact on the quality of precipitation forecasts (analyzed in terms of predicted radar reflectivity), and are important steps toward an operational EnKF-based ensemble analysis and probabilistic forecast system to support convective-scale warn-on-forecast operations.

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Nathan Snook, Ming Xue, and Youngsun Jung

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One of the goals of the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) is to improve storm-scale numerical weather prediction (NWP) by collecting data with a dense X-band radar network that provides high-resolution low-level coverage, and by assimilating such data into NWP models. During the first spring storm season after the deployment of four radars in the CASA Integrated Project-1 (IP-1) network in southwest Oklahoma, a tornadic mesoscale convective system (MCS) was captured by CASA and surrounding Weather Surveillance Radars-1988 Doppler (WSR-88Ds) on 8–9 May 2007. The MCS moved across northwest Texas and western and central Oklahoma; two tornadoes rated as category 1 on the enhanced Fujita scale (EF-1) and one tornado of EF-0 intensity were reported during the event, just to the north of the IP-1 network. This was the first tornadic convective system observed by CASA.

To quantify the impacts of CASA radar data in storm-scale NWP, a set of data assimilation experiments were performed using the Advanced Regional Prediction System (ARPS) ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) system configured with full model physics and high-resolution terrain. Data from four CASA IP-1 radars and five WSR-88Ds were assimilated in some of the experiments. The ensemble contained 40 members, and radar data were assimilated every 5 min for 1 h. While the assimilation of WSR-88D data alone was able to produce a reasonably accurate analysis of the convective system, assimilating CASA data in addition to WSR-88D data is found to improve the representation of storm-scale circulations, particularly in the lowest few kilometers of the atmosphere, as evidenced by analyses of gust front position and comparison of simulated Vr with observations. Assimilating CASA data decreased RMS innovation of the resulting ensemble mean analyses of Z, particularly in early assimilation cycles, suggesting that the addition of CASA data allowed the EnKF system to more quickly achieve a good result. Use of multiple microphysics schemes in the forecast ensemble was found to alleviate underdispersion by increasing the ensemble spread. This work is the first assimilating real CASA data into an NWP model using EnKF.

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Rong Kong, Ming Xue, Chengsi Liu, and Youngsun Jung

Abstract

In this study, a hybrid En3DVar data assimilation (DA) scheme is compared with 3DVar, EnKF, and pure En3DVar for the assimilation of radar data in a real tornadic storm case. Results using hydrometeor mixing ratios (CVq) or logarithmic mixing ratios (CVlogq) as the control variables are compared in the variational DA framework. To address the lack of radial velocity impact issues when using CVq, a procedure that assimilates reflectivity and radial velocity data in two separate analysis passes is adopted. Comparisons are made in terms of the root-mean-square innovations (RMSIs) as well as the intensity and structure of the analyzed and forecast storms. For pure En3DVar that uses 100% ensemble covariance, CVlogq and CVq have similar RMSIs in the velocity analyses, but errors grow faster during forecasts when using CVlogq. Introducing static background error covariance B at 5% in hybrid En3DVar (with CVlogq) significantly reduces the forecast error growth. Pure En3DVar produces more intense reflectivity analyses than EnKF that more closely match the observations. Hybrid En3DVar with 50% B outperforms other weights in terms of the RMSIs and forecasts of updraft helicity and is thus used in the final comparison with 3DVar and EnKF. The hybrid En3DVar is found to outperform EnKF in better capturing the intensity and structure of the analyzed and forecast storms and outperform 3DVAR in better capturing the intensity and evolution of the rotating updraft.

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Marcus Johnson, Youngsun Jung, Daniel T. Dawson II, and Ming Xue

Abstract

Microphysics parameterization becomes increasingly important as the model grid spacing increases toward convection-resolving scales. The performance of several partially or fully two-moment (2M) schemes within the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model, version 3.5.1, chosen because of their well-documented advantages over one-moment (1M) schemes, is evaluated with respect to their ability in producing the well-known polarimetric radar signatures found within supercell storms. Such signatures include the Z DR and K DP columns, the Z DR arc, the midlevel Z DR and ρ HV rings, the hail signature in the forward-flank downdraft, and the K DP foot. Polarimetric variables are computed from WRF Model output using a polarimetric radar simulator. It is found that microphysics schemes with a 1M rimed-ice category are unable to simulate the Z DR arc, despite containing a 2M rain category. It is also found that a hail-like rimed-ice category (in addition to graupel) may be necessary to reproduce the observed hail signature. For the microphysics schemes that only contain a graupel-like rimed-ice category, only very wet graupel particles are able to reach the lowest model level, which did not adequately reduce Z DR in this signature. The most realistic signatures overall are found with microphysics schemes that are fully 2M with a separate hail category.

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Jonathan Labriola, Nathan Snook, Youngsun Jung, and Ming Xue

Abstract

Hail forecast evaluations provide important insight into microphysical treatment of rimed ice. In this study we evaluate explicit 0–90-min EnKF-based storm-scale (500-m horizontal grid spacing) hail forecasts for a severe weather event that occurred in Oklahoma on 19 May 2013. Forecast ensembles are run using three different bulk microphysics (MP) schemes: the Milbrandt–Yau double-moment scheme (MY2), the Milbrandt–Yau triple-moment scheme (MY3), and the NSSL variable density-rimed ice double-moment scheme (NSSL). Output from a hydrometeor classification algorithm is used to verify surface hail size forecasts. All three schemes produce forecasts that predict the coverage of severe surface hail with moderate to high skill, but exhibit less skill at predicting significant severe hail coverage. A microphysical budget analysis is conducted to better understand hail growth processes in all three schemes. The NSSL scheme uses two-variable density-rimed ice categories to create large hailstones from dense, wet growth graupel particles; however, it is noted the scheme underestimates the coverage of significant severe hail. Both the MY2 and MY3 schemes produce many small hailstones aloft from unrimed, frozen raindrops; in the melting layer, hailstones become much larger than observations because of the excessive accretion of water. The results of this work highlight the importance of using a MP scheme that realistically models microphysical processes.

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