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Jeffrey D. Duda, Xuguang Wang, Yongming Wang, and Jacob R. Carley

Abstract

Two methods for assimilating radar reflectivity into deterministic convection-allowing forecasts were compared: an operationally used, computationally less expensive cloud analysis (CA) scheme and a relatively more expensive, but rigorous, ensemble Kalman filter–variational hybrid method (EnVar). These methods were implemented in the Nonhydrostatic Multiscale Model on the B-grid and were tested on 10 cases featuring high-impact deep convective storms and heavy precipitation. A variety of traditional, neighborhood-based, and features-based verification metrics support that the EnVar produced superior free forecasts compared to the CA procedure, with statistically significant differences extending up to 9 h into the forecast. Despite being inferior, the CA scheme was able to provide benefit compared to not assimilating radar reflectivity at all, but limited to the first few forecast hours. While the EnVar is able to partially suppress spurious convection by assimilating 0-dBZ reflectivity observations directly, the CA is not designed to reduce or remove hydrometeors. As a result, the CA struggles more with suppression of spurious convection in the first-guess field, which resulted in high-frequency biases and poor forecast evolution, as illustrated in a few case studies. Additionally, while the EnVar uses flow-dependent ensemble covariances to update hydrometers, thermodynamic, and dynamic variables simultaneously when the reflectivity is assimilated, the CA relies on a radar reflectivity-derived latent heating rate that is applied during a separate digital filter initialization (DFI) procedure to introduce deep convective storms into the model, and the results of CA are shown to be sensitive to the window length used in the DFI.

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Donald E. Lippi, Jacob R. Carley, and Daryl T. Kleist

Abstract

This work describes developments to improve the Doppler radial wind data assimilation scheme used in the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI) data assimilation system with a focus on convection-permitting, 0–18-h forecasts of a heavy precipitation single case study. This work focuses on two aspects: 1) the extension of the radial wind observation operator to include vertical velocity and 2) a refinement of the radial wind super-observation processing. The refinement includes reducing the magnitude of observation smoothing and allowing observations from higher scan angles into the analysis with the intent to improve the assimilation of the radar data for operational, convection-permitting models. The results of this study demonstrate that there is sensitivity to the refinement in super-observation settings. The inclusion of vertical velocity in the observation operator is shown to have a neutral to slightly positive impact on the forecast. Results from this study are suggested to be used as a foundation to prioritize future research into the effective assimilation of radial winds in an operational setting.

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Eric A. Aligo, Brad Ferrier, and Jacob R. Carley

Abstract

The Ferrier–Aligo (FA) microphysics scheme has been running operationally in the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) North American Mesoscale Forecast System (NAM) since August 2014. It was developed to improve forecasts of deep convection in the NAM contiguous United States (CONUS) nest, and it replaces previous versions of the NAM microphysics. The FA scheme is the culmination of extensive microphysical scheme sensitivity experiments made over nearly a dozen warm- and cool-season severe weather cases, as well as an extensive real-time testing in a full, system-wide developmental version of the NAM. While the FA scheme advects each hydrometeor species separately, it was the mass-weighted rime factor (RF) that allowed rimed ice to be advected to very cold temperatures aloft and improved the vertical structure of deep convection. Rimed ice fall speeds were reduced in order to offset an increase in bias of heavy precipitation as a consequence of the mass-weighted RF advection. The FA scheme also incorporated findings from 3-km model runs using the Thompson scheme, including 1) improved closure assumptions for large precipitating ice that targeted the convective and anvil regions of storms, 2) a new diagnostic calculation of radar reflectivity from rimed ice in association with intense convection, and 3) a variable rain intercept parameter that reduced widespread spurious weak reflectivity from shallow boundary layer clouds and increased stratiform rainfall.

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Aaron Johnson, Xuguang Wang, Jacob R. Carley, Louis J. Wicker, and Christopher Karstens

Abstract

A GSI-based data assimilation (DA) system, including three-dimensional variational assimilation (3DVar) and ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF), is extended to the multiscale assimilation of both meso- and synoptic-scale observation networks and convective-scale radar reflectivity and velocity observations. EnKF and 3DVar are systematically compared in this multiscale context to better understand the impacts of differences between the DA techniques on the analyses at multiple scales and the subsequent convective-scale precipitation forecasts.

Averaged over 10 diverse cases, 8-h precipitation forecasts initialized using GSI-based EnKF are more skillful than those using GSI-based 3DVar, both with and without storm-scale radar DA. The advantage from radar DA persists for ~5 h using EnKF, but only ~1 h using 3DVar.

A case study of an upscale growing MCS is also examined. The better EnKF-initialized forecast is attributed to more accurate analyses of both the mesoscale environment and the storm-scale features. The mesoscale location and structure of a warm front is more accurately analyzed using EnKF than 3DVar. Furthermore, storms in the EnKF multiscale analysis are maintained during the subsequent forecast period. However, storms in the 3DVar multiscale analysis are not maintained and generate excessive cold pools. Therefore, while the EnKF forecast with radar DA remains better than the forecast without radar DA throughout the forecast period, the 3DVar forecast quality is degraded by radar DA after the first hour. Diagnostics revealed that the inferior analysis at mesoscales and storm scales for the 3DVar is primarily attributed to the lack of flow dependence and cross-variable correlation, respectively, in the 3DVar static background error covariance.

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Jacob R. Carley, Benjamin R. J. Schwedler, Michael E. Baldwin, Robert J. Trapp, John Kwiatkowski, Jeffrey Logsdon, and Steven J. Weiss

Abstract

A feature-specific forecasting method for high-impact weather events that takes advantage of high-resolution numerical weather prediction models and spatial forecast verification methodology is proposed. An application of this method to the prediction of a severe convective storm event is given.

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Benjamin T. Blake, Jacob R. Carley, Trevor I. Alcott, Isidora Jankov, Matthew E. Pyle, Sarah E. Perfater, and Benjamin Albright

Abstract

Traditional ensemble probabilities are computed based on the number of members that exceed a threshold at a given point divided by the total number of members. This approach has been employed for many years in coarse-resolution models. However, convection-permitting ensembles of less than ~20 members are generally underdispersive, and spatial displacement at the gridpoint scale is often large. These issues have motivated the development of spatial filtering and neighborhood postprocessing methods, such as fractional coverage and neighborhood maximum value, which address this spatial uncertainty. Two different fractional coverage approaches for the generation of gridpoint probabilities were evaluated. The first method expands the traditional point probability calculation to cover a 100-km radius around a given point. The second method applies the idea that a uniform radius is not appropriate when there is strong agreement between members. In such cases, the traditional fractional coverage approach can reduce the probabilities for these potentially well-handled events. Therefore, a variable radius approach has been developed based upon ensemble agreement scale similarity criteria. In this method, the radius size ranges from 10 km for member forecasts that are in good agreement (e.g., lake-effect snow, orographic precipitation, very short-term forecasts, etc.) to 100 km when the members are more dissimilar. Results from the application of this adaptive technique for the calculation of point probabilities for precipitation forecasts are presented based upon several months of objective verification and subjective feedback from the 2017 Flash Flood and Intense Rainfall Experiment.

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Matthew T. Morris, Jacob R. Carley, Edward Colón, Annette Gibbs, Manuel S. F. V. De Pondeca, and Steven Levine

Abstract

Missing observations at airports can cause delays in commercial and general aviation in the United States owing to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety regulations. The Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) has provided interpolated temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Real-Time Mesoscale Analysis (RTMA) at airport locations throughout the United States since 2015, with these data substituting for missing temperature observations and mitigating impacts on air travel. A quality assessment of the RTMA is performed to determine if the RTMA could be used in a similar fashion for other weather observations, such as 10-m wind, ceiling, and visibility. Retrospective, data-denial experiments are used to perform the quality assessment by withholding observations from FAA-specified airports. Outliers seen in the RTMA ceiling and visibility analyses during events meeting or exceeding instrument flight rules suggest the RTMA should not be substituted for missing ceiling and visibility observations at this time. The RTMA is a suitable replacement for missing temperature observations for a subset of airports throughout most of the CONUS and Alaska, but not at all stations. Likewise, the RTMA is a suitable substitute for missing surface pressure observations at a subset of airports, with notable exceptions in regions of complex terrain. The RTMA may also be a suitable substitute for missing wind speed observations, provided the wind speed is ≤15 kt (1 kt ≈ 0.51 m s−1). Overall, these results suggest the potential for RTMA to substitute for additional missing observations while highlighting priority areas of future work for improving the RTMA.

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Irina V. Djalalova, Joseph Olson, Jacob R. Carley, Laura Bianco, James M. Wilczak, Yelena Pichugina, Robert Banta, Melinda Marquis, and Joel Cline

Abstract

During the summer of 2004 a network of 11 wind profiling radars (WPRs) was deployed in New England as part of the New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS). Observations from this dataset are used to determine their impact on numerical weather prediction (NWP) model skill at simulating coastal and offshore winds through data-denial experiments. This study is a part of the Position of Offshore Wind Energy Resources (POWER) experiment, a Department of Energy (DOE) sponsored project that uses National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) models for two 1-week periods to measure the impact of the assimilation of observations from 11 inland WPRs. Model simulations with and without assimilation of the WPR data are compared at the locations of the inland WPRs, as well as against observations from an additional WPR and a high-resolution Doppler lidar (HRDL) located on board the Research Vessel Ronald H. Brown (RHB), which cruised the Gulf of Maine during the NEAQS experiment. Model evaluation in the lowest 2 km above the ground shows a positive impact of the WPR data assimilation from the initialization time through the next five to six forecast hours at the WPR locations for 12 of 15 days analyzed, when offshore winds prevailed. A smaller positive impact at the RHB ship track was also confirmed. For the remaining three days, during which time there was a cyclone event with strong onshore wind flow, the assimilation of additional observations had a negative impact on model skill. Explanations for the negative impact are offered.

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Jamie K. Wolff, Michelle Harrold, Tracy Hertneky, Eric Aligo, Jacob R. Carley, Brad Ferrier, Geoff DiMego, Louisa Nance, and Ying-Hwa Kuo

Abstract

A wide range of numerical weather prediction (NWP) innovations are under development in the research community that have the potential to positively impact operational models. The Developmental Testbed Center (DTC) helps facilitate the transition of these innovations from research to operations (R2O). With the large number of innovations available in the research community, it is critical to clearly define a testing protocol to streamline the R2O process. The DTC has defined such a process that relies on shared responsibilities of the researchers, the DTC, and operational centers to test promising new NWP advancements. As part of the first stage of this process, the DTC instituted the mesoscale model evaluation testbed (MMET), which established a common testing framework to assist the research community in demonstrating the merits of developments. The ability to compare performance across innovations for critical cases provides a mechanism for selecting the most promising capabilities for further testing. If the researcher demonstrates improved results using MMET, then the innovation may be considered for the second stage of comprehensive testing and evaluation (T&E) prior to entering the final stage of preimplementation T&E.

MMET provides initialization and observation datasets for several case studies and multiday periods. In addition, the DTC provides baseline results for select operational configurations that use the Advanced Research version of Weather Research and Forecasting Model (ARW) or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Environmental Modeling System Nonhydrostatic Multiscale Model on the B grid (NEMS-NMMB). These baselines can be used for testing sensitivities to different model versions or configurations in order to improve forecast performance.

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Robert M. Banta, Yelena L. Pichugina, W. Alan Brewer, Eric P. James, Joseph B. Olson, Stanley G. Benjamin, Jacob R. Carley, Laura Bianco, Irina V. Djalalova, James M. Wilczak, R. Michael Hardesty, Joel Cline, and Melinda C. Marquis

Abstract

To advance the understanding of meteorological processes in offshore coastal regions, the spatial variability of wind profiles must be characterized and uncertainties (errors) in NWP model wind forecasts quantified. These gaps are especially critical for the new offshore wind energy industry, where wind profile measurements in the marine atmospheric layer spanned by wind turbine rotor blades, generally 50–200 m above mean sea level (MSL), have been largely unavailable. Here, high-quality wind profile measurements were available every 15 min from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Earth System Research Laboratory (NOAA/ESRL)’s high-resolution Doppler lidar (HRDL) during a monthlong research cruise in the Gulf of Maine for the 2004 New England Air Quality Study. These measurements were compared with retrospective NWP model wind forecasts over the area using two NOAA forecast-modeling systems [North American Mesoscale Forecast System (NAM) and Rapid Refresh (RAP)]. HRDL profile measurements quantified model errors, including their dependence on height above sea level, diurnal cycle, and forecast lead time. Typical model wind speed errors were ∼2.5 m s−1, and vector-wind errors were ∼4 m s−1. Short-term forecast errors were larger near the surface—30% larger below 100 m than above and largest for several hours after local midnight (biased low). Longer-term, 12-h forecasts had the largest errors after local sunset (biased high). At more than 3-h lead times, predictions from finer-resolution models exhibited larger errors. Horizontal variability of winds, measured as the ship traversed the Gulf of Maine, was significant and raised questions about whether modeled fields, which appeared smooth in comparison, were capturing this variability. If not, horizontal arrays of high-quality, vertical-profiling devices will be required for wind energy resource assessment offshore. Such measurement arrays are also needed to improve NWP models.

Open access