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Liao-Fan Lin and Zhaoxia Pu

Abstract

Remotely sensed soil moisture data are typically incorporated into numerical weather models under a framework of weakly coupled data assimilation (WCDA), with a land surface analysis scheme independent from the atmospheric analysis component. In contrast, strongly coupled data assimilation (SCDA) allows simultaneous correction of atmospheric and land surface states but has not been sufficiently explored with land surface soil moisture data assimilation. This study implemented a variational approach to assimilate the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) 9-km enhanced retrievals into the Noah land surface model coupled with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model under a framework of both WCDA and SCDA. The goal of the study is to quantify the relative impact of assimilating SMAP data under different coupling frameworks on the atmospheric forecasts in the summer. The results of the numerical experiments during July 2016 show that SCDA can provide additional benefits on the forecasts of air temperature and humidity compared to WCDA. Over the U.S. Great Plains, assimilation of SMAP data under WCDA reduces a warm bias in temperature and a dry bias in humidity by 7.3% and 19.3%, respectively, while the SCDA case contributes an additional bias reduction of 2.2% (temperature) and 3.3% (humidity). While WCDA leads to a reduction of RMSE in temperature forecasts by 4.1%, SCDA results in additional reduction of RMSE by 0.8%. For the humidity, the reduction of RMSE is around 1% for both WCDA and SCDA.

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Liao-Fan Lin and Zhaoxia Pu

Abstract

This study characterizes the spatial and temporal variability of the background error covariance between the land surface soil moisture and atmospheric states for a better understanding of the potentials of assimilating satellite soil moisture data under a framework of strongly coupled land–atmosphere data assimilation. The study uses the Noah land surface model coupled with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model and the National Meteorological Center (NMC) method for computing the land–atmosphere background error covariance from 2015 to 2017 over the contiguous United States. The results show that the forecast errors in top-10-cm soil moisture and near-surface air potential temperature and specific humidity are correlated and relatively large during the daytime in the summer. The magnitude of the error correlation between these three states is comparable. For example, in July, the error correlation averaged over all day- and nighttime samples is −0.13 for near-surface temperature and humidity, −0.20 for surface soil moisture and near-surface temperature, and 0.15 for surface soil moisture and near-surface humidity. During the summer, the forecast errors in surface soil moisture are correlated with those of atmospheric states up to the sigma pressure level of 0.9 (approximately 900 hPa for a sea level location) with domain-mean correlations of −0.15 and 0.1 for temperature and humidity, respectively. The results suggest that assimilation of satellite soil moisture data could provide cross-variable impacts comparable to those assimilating conventional near-surface temperature and humidity data. The forecast errors of soil moisture are only marginally correlated with those of the winds.

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Liao-Fan Lin and Zhaoxia Pu

Abstract

Strongly coupled land–atmosphere data assimilation has not yet been implemented into operational numerical weather prediction (NWP) systems. Up to now, upper-air measurements have been assimilated mainly in atmospheric analyses, while land and near-surface data have been assimilated mainly into land surface models. Thus, this study aims to explore the benefits of assimilating atmospheric and land surface observations within the framework of strongly coupled data assimilation. Specifically, we added soil moisture as a control state within the ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF)-based Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI) and conducted a series of numerical experiments through the assimilation of 2-m temperature/humidity and in situ surface soil moisture data along with conventional atmospheric measurements such as radiosondes into the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model with the Noah land surface model. The verification against in situ measurements and analyses show that compared to the assimilation of conventional data, adding soil moisture as a control state and assimilating 2-m humidity can bring additional benefits to analyses and forecasts. The impact of assimilating 2-m temperature (surface soil moisture) data is positive mainly on the temperature (soil moisture) analyses but on average marginal for other variables. On average, below 750 hPa, verification against the NCEP analysis indicates that the respective RMSE reduction in the forecasts of temperature and humidity is 5% and 2% for assimilating conventional data; 10% and 5% for including soil moisture as a control state; and 16% and 11% for simultaneously adding soil moisture as a control state and assimilating 2-m humidity data.

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Jiaying Zhang, Liao-Fan Lin, and Rafael L. Bras

Abstract

Hydrological applications rely on the availability and quality of precipitation products, especially model- and satellite-based products for use in areas without ground measurements. It is known that the quality of model- and satellite-based precipitation products is complementary: model-based products exhibit high quality during cold seasons while satellite-based products are better during warm seasons. To explore the complementary behavior of the quality of the precipitation products, this study uses 2-m air temperature as auxiliary information to evaluate high-resolution (0.1°/hourly) precipitation estimates from the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model and from the version 5 Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) algorithm (i.e., early and final runs). The products are evaluated relative to the reference NCEP Stage IV precipitation estimates over the central United States during August 2015–July 2017. Results show that the IMERG final-run estimates are nearly unbiased, while the IMERG early-run and the WRF estimates are positively biased. The WRF estimates exhibit high correlations with the reference data when the temperature falls below 280 K. The IMERG estimates, both early and final runs, do so when the temperature exceeds 280 K. Moreover, the complementary behavior of the WRF and the IMERG products conditioned on air temperature does not vary with either season or location.

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Liao-Fan Lin, Ardeshir M. Ebtehaj, Alejandro N. Flores, Satish Bastola, and Rafael L. Bras

Abstract

This paper presents a framework that enables simultaneous assimilation of satellite precipitation and soil moisture observations into the coupled Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) and Noah land surface model through variational approaches. The authors tested the framework by assimilating precipitation data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and soil moisture data from the Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite. The results show that assimilation of both TRMM and SMOS data can effectively improve the forecast skills of precipitation, top 10-cm soil moisture, and 2-m temperature and specific humidity. Within a 2-day time window, impacts of precipitation data assimilation on the forecasts remain relatively constant for forecast lead times greater than 6 h, while the influence of soil moisture data assimilation increases with lead time. The study also demonstrates that the forecast skill of precipitation, soil moisture, and near-surface temperature and humidity are further improved when both the TRMM and SMOS data are assimilated. In particular, the combined data assimilation reduces the prediction biases and root-mean-square errors, respectively, by 57% and 6% (for precipitation); 73% and 27% (for soil moisture); 17% and 9% (for 2-m temperature); and 33% and 11% (for 2-m specific humidity).

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Liao-Fan Lin, Ardeshir M. Ebtehaj, Rafael L. Bras, Alejandro N. Flores, and Jingfeng Wang

Abstract

The objective of this study is to develop a framework for dynamically downscaling spaceborne precipitation products using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model with four-dimensional variational data assimilation (4D-Var). Numerical experiments have been conducted to 1) understand the sensitivity of precipitation downscaling through point-scale precipitation data assimilation and 2) investigate the impact of seasonality and associated changes in precipitation-generating mechanisms on the quality of spatiotemporal downscaling of precipitation. The point-scale experiment suggests that assimilating precipitation can significantly affect the precipitation analysis, forecast, and downscaling. Because of occasional overestimation or underestimation of small-scale summertime precipitation extremes, the numerical experiments presented here demonstrate that the wintertime assimilation produces downscaled precipitation estimates that are in closer agreement with the reference National Centers for Environmental Prediction stage IV dataset than similar summertime experiments. This study concludes that the WRF 4D-Var system is able to effectively downscale a 6-h precipitation product with a spatial resolution of 20 km to hourly precipitation with a spatial resolution of less than 10 km in grid spacing—relevant to finescale hydrologic applications for the era of the Global Precipitation Measurement mission.

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