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Thorwald H. M. Stein, Robin J. Hogan, Peter A. Clark, Carol E. Halliwell, Kirsty E. Hanley, Humphrey W. Lean, John C. Nicol, and Robert S. Plant

Abstract

A new frontier in weather forecasting is emerging by operational forecast models now being run at convection-permitting resolutions at many national weather services. However, this is not a panacea; significant systematic errors remain in the character of convective storms and rainfall distributions. The Dynamical and Microphysical Evolution of Convective Storms (DYMECS) project is taking a fundamentally new approach to evaluate and improve such models: rather than relying on a limited number of cases, which may not be representative, the authors have gathered a large database of 3D storm structures on 40 convective days using the Chilbolton radar in southern England. They have related these structures to storm life cycles derived by tracking features in the rainfall from the U.K. radar network and compared them statistically to storm structures in the Met Office model, which they ran at horizontal grid length between 1.5 km and 100 m, including simulations with different subgrid mixing length. The authors also evaluated the scale and intensity of convective updrafts using a new radar technique. They find that the horizontal size of simulated convective storms and the updrafts within them is much too large at 1.5-km resolution, such that the convective mass flux of individual updrafts can be too large by an order of magnitude. The scale of precipitation cores and updrafts decreases steadily with decreasing grid lengths, as does the typical storm lifetime. The 200-m grid-length simulation with standard mixing length performs best over all diagnostics, although a greater mixing length improves the representation of deep convective storms.

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Thorwald H. M. Stein, Robin J. Hogan, Kirsty E. Hanley, John C. Nicol, Humphrey W. Lean, Robert S. Plant, Peter A. Clark, and Carol E. Halliwell

Abstract

A set of high-resolution radar observations of convective storms has been collected to evaluate such storms in the Met Office Unified Model during the Dynamical and Microphysical Evolution of Convective Storms (DYMECS) project. The 3-GHz Chilbolton Advanced Meteorological Radar was set up with a scan-scheduling algorithm to automatically track convective storms identified in real time from the operational rainfall radar network. More than 1000 storm observations gathered over 15 days in 2011 and 2012 are used to evaluate the model under various synoptic conditions supporting convection. In terms of the detailed three-dimensional morphology, storms in the 1500-m grid length simulations are shown to produce horizontal structures a factor of 1.5–2 wider compared to radar observations. A set of nested model runs at grid lengths down to 100 m show that the models converge in terms of storm width, but the storm structures in the simulations with the smallest grid lengths are too narrow and too intense compared to the radar observations. The modeled storms were surrounded by a region of drizzle without ice reflectivities above 0 dBZ aloft, which was related to the dominance of ice crystals and was improved by allowing only aggregates as an ice particle habit. Simulations with graupel outperformed the standard configuration for heavy-rain profiles, but the storm structures were a factor of 2 too wide and the convective cores 2 km too deep.

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D. L. A. Flack, P. A. Clark, C.E. Halliwell, N. M. Roberts, S. L. Gray, R. S. Plant, and H. W. Lean

Abstract

Convection-permitting forecasts have improved the forecasts of flooding from intense rainfall. However, probabilistic forecasts, generally based upon ensemble methods, are essential to quantify forecast uncertainty. This leads to a need to understand how different aspects of the model system affect forecast behaviour. We compare the uncertainty due to initial and boundary condition (IBC) perturbations and boundary-layer turbulence using a super ensemble (SE) created to determine the influence of 12 IBC perturbations vs. 12 stochastic boundary-layer (SBL) perturbations constructed using a physically-based SBL scheme. We consider two mesoscale extreme precipitation events. For each we run a 144–member SE. The SEs are analysed to consider the growth of differences between the simulations, and the spatial structure and scales of those differences. The SBL perturbations rapidly spin-up, typically within 12 h of precipitation commencing. The SBL perturbations eventually produce spread that is not statistically different from the spread produced by the IBC perturbations, though in one case there is initially increased spread from the IBC perturbations. Spatially, the growth from IBC occurs on larger scales than that produced by the SBL perturbations (typically by an order of magnitude). However, analysis across multiple scales shows that the SBL scheme produces a random relocation of precipitation up to the scale at which the ensemble members agree with each other. This implies that statistical post-processing can be used instead of running larger ensembles. Use of these statistical post-processing techniques could lead to more reliable probabilistic forecasts of convective events and their associated hazards.

Open access
D. L. A. Flack, P. A. Clark, C. E. Halliwell, N. M. Roberts, S. L. Gray, R. S. Plant, and H. W. Lean

Abstract

Convection-permitting forecasts have improved the forecasts of flooding from intense rainfall. However, probabilistic forecasts, generally based upon ensemble methods, are essential to quantify forecast uncertainty. This leads to a need to understand how different aspects of the model system affect forecast behavior. We compare the uncertainty due to initial and boundary condition (IBC) perturbations and boundary layer turbulence using a superensemble (SE) created to determine the influence of 12 IBC perturbations versus 12 stochastic boundary layer (SBL) perturbations constructed using a physically based SBL scheme. We consider two mesoscale extreme precipitation events. For each, we run a 144-member SE. The SEs are analyzed to consider the growth of differences between the simulations, and the spatial structure and scales of those differences. The SBL perturbations rapidly spin up, typically within 12 h of precipitation commencing. The SBL perturbations eventually produce spread that is not statistically different from the spread produced by the IBC perturbations, though in one case there is initially increased spread from the IBC perturbations. Spatially, the growth from IBC occurs on larger scales than that produced by the SBL perturbations (typically by an order of magnitude). However, analysis across multiple scales shows that the SBL scheme produces a random relocation of precipitation up to the scale at which the ensemble members agree with each other. This implies that statistical postprocessing can be used instead of running larger ensembles. Use of these statistical postprocessing techniques could lead to more reliable probabilistic forecasts of convective events and their associated hazards.

Open access
John S. Kain, Steve Willington, Adam J. Clark, Steven J. Weiss, Mark Weeks, Israel L. Jirak, Michael C. Coniglio, Nigel M. Roberts, Christopher D. Karstens, Jonathan M. Wilkinson, Kent H. Knopfmeier, Humphrey W. Lean, Laura Ellam, Kirsty Hanley, Rachel North, and Dan Suri

Abstract

In recent years, a growing partnership has emerged between the Met Office and the designated U.S. national centers for expertise in severe weather research and forecasting, that is, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) and the NOAA Storm Prediction Center (SPC). The driving force behind this partnership is a compelling set of mutual interests related to predicting and understanding high-impact weather and using high-resolution numerical weather prediction models as foundational tools to explore these interests.

The forum for this collaborative activity is the NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed, where annual Spring Forecasting Experiments (SFEs) are conducted by NSSL and SPC. For the last decade, NSSL and SPC have used these experiments to find ways that high-resolution models can help achieve greater success in the prediction of tornadoes, large hail, and damaging winds. Beginning in 2012, the Met Office became a contributing partner in annual SFEs, bringing complementary expertise in the use of convection-allowing models, derived in their case from a parallel decadelong effort to use these models to advance prediction of flash floods associated with heavy thunderstorms.

The collaboration between NSSL, SPC, and the Met Office has been enthusiastic and productive, driven by strong mutual interests at a grassroots level and generous institutional support from the parent government agencies. In this article, a historical background is provided, motivations for collaborative activities are emphasized, and preliminary results are highlighted.

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G. Vaughan, J. Methven, D. Anderson, B. Antonescu, L. Baker, T. P. Baker, S. P. Ballard, K. N. Bower, P. R. A. Brown, J. Chagnon, T. W. Choularton, J. Chylik, P. J. Connolly, P. A. Cook, R. J. Cotton, J. Crosier, C. Dearden, J. R. Dorsey, T. H. A. Frame, M. W. Gallagher, M. Goodliff, S. L. Gray, B. J. Harvey, P. Knippertz, H. W. Lean, D. Li, G. Lloyd, O. Martínez–Alvarado, J. Nicol, J. Norris, E. Öström, J. Owen, D. J. Parker, R. S. Plant, I. A. Renfrew, N. M. Roberts, P. Rosenberg, A. C. Rudd, D. M. Schultz, J. P. Taylor, T. Trzeciak, R. Tubbs, A. K. Vance, P. J. van Leeuwen, A. Wellpott, and A. Woolley

Abstract

The Diabatic Influences on Mesoscale Structures in Extratropical Storms (DIAMET) project aims to improve forecasts of high-impact weather in extratropical cyclones through field measurements, high-resolution numerical modeling, and improved design of ensemble forecasting and data assimilation systems. This article introduces DIAMET and presents some of the first results. Four field campaigns were conducted by the project, one of which, in late 2011, coincided with an exceptionally stormy period marked by an unusually strong, zonal North Atlantic jet stream and a succession of severe windstorms in northwest Europe. As a result, December 2011 had the highest monthly North Atlantic Oscillation index (2.52) of any December in the last 60 years. Detailed observations of several of these storms were gathered using the U.K.’s BAe 146 research aircraft and extensive ground-based measurements. As an example of the results obtained during the campaign, observations are presented of Extratropical Cyclone Friedhelm on 8 December 2011, when surface winds with gusts exceeding 30 m s–1 crossed central Scotland, leading to widespread disruption to transportation and electricity supply. Friedhelm deepened 44 hPa in 24 h and developed a pronounced bent-back front wrapping around the storm center. The strongest winds at 850 hPa and the surface occurred in the southern quadrant of the storm, and detailed measurements showed these to be most intense in clear air between bands of showers. High-resolution ensemble forecasts from the Met Office showed similar features, with the strongest winds aligned in linear swaths between the bands, suggesting that there is potential for improved skill in forecasts of damaging winds.

Open access
Janet Barlow, Martin Best, Sylvia I. Bohnenstengel, Peter Clark, Sue Grimmond, Humphrey Lean, Andreas Christen, Stefan Emeis, Martial Haeffelin, Ian N. Harman, Aude Lemonsu, Alberto Martilli, Eric Pardyjak, Mathias W Rotach, Susan Ballard, Ian Boutle, Andy Brown, Xiaoming Cai, Matteo Carpentieri, Omduth Coceal, Ben Crawford, Silvana Di Sabatino, Junxia Dou, Daniel R. Drew, John M. Edwards, Joachim Fallmann, Krzysztof Fortuniak, Jemma Gornall, Tobias Gronemeier, Christos H. Halios, Denise Hertwig, Kohin Hirano, Albert A. M. Holtslag, Zhiwen Luo, Gerald Mills, Makoto Nakayoshi, Kathy Pain, K. Heinke Schlünzen, Stefan Smith, Lionel Soulhac, Gert-Jan Steeneveld, Ting Sun, Natalie E Theeuwes, David Thomson, James A. Voogt, Helen C. Ward, Zheng-Tong Xie, and Jian Zhong
Open access