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Lidia Cucurull and Richard A. Anthes

Abstract

As the U.S. polar-orbiting satellites NOAA-15, -18, and -19 and NASA’s Aqua satellite reach the ends of their lives, there may be a loss in redundancy between their microwave (MW) soundings, and the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) on the Suomi–National Polar-Orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite. With the expected delay in the launch of the next generation of U.S. polar-orbiting satellites, there may be a loss in at least some of the U.S. MW data. There may also be a significant decrease in the number of radio occultation (RO) observations. The mainstay of the global RO system, the COSMIC constellation of six satellites is already past the end of its nominal lifetime. A replacement of RO soundings in the tropics is planned with the launch of COSMIC-2 satellites in 2016. However, the polar constellation of COSMIC-2 will not be launched until 2018 or 2019, and complete funding for this constellation is not assured. Using the NCEP operational forecast system, forecasts for March–April 2013 are carried out in which various combinations of the U.S. MW and all RO soundings are removed. The main results are that the forecasts are only slightly degraded in the Northern Hemisphere, even with all of these observations removed. The decrease in accuracy is considerably greater in the Southern Hemisphere, where the greatest forecast degradation occurs when the RO observations are removed. Overall, these results indicate that the possible gap in RO observations is potentially more significant than the possible gap in the U.S. MW data.

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Michael J. Mueller, Bachir Annane, S. Mark Leidner, and Lidia Cucurull

Abstract

An observing system experiment was conducted to assess the impact of wind products derived from the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) on tropical cyclone track, maximum 10-m wind speed V max, and minimum sea level pressure forecasts. The experiment used a global data assimilation and forecast system, and the impact of both CYGNSS-derived scalar and vector wind retrievals was investigated. The CYGNSS-derived vector wind products were generated by optimally combining the scalar winds and a gridded a priori vector field. Additional tests investigated the impact of CYGNSS data on a regional model through the impact of lateral boundary and initial conditions from the global model during the developmental phase of Hurricane Michael (2018). In the global model, statistically significant track forecast improvements of 20–40 km were found in the first 60 h. The V max forecasts showed some significant degradations of ~2 kt at a few lead times, especially in the first 24 h. At most lead times, impacts were not statistically significant. Degradations in V max for Hurricane Michael in the global model were largely attributable to a failure of the CYGNSS-derived scalar wind test to produce rapid intensification in the forecast initialized at 0000 UTC 7 October. The storm in this test was notably less organized and symmetrical than in the control and CYGNSS-derived vector wind test. The regional model used initial and lateral boundary conditions from the global control and CYGNSS scalar wind tests. The regional forecasts showed large improvements in track, V max, and minimum sea level pressure.

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Tanya R. Peevey, Jason M. English, Lidia Cucurull, Hongli Wang, and Andrew C. Kren

Abstract

Severe weather events can have a significant impact on local communities because of the loss of life and property. Forecast busts associated with high-impact weather events have been attributed to initial condition errors over data-sparse regions, such as the Pacific Ocean. Numerous flight campaigns have found that targeted observations over these areas can improve forecasts. To better understand the impacts of measurement type and sampling domains on forecast performance, observing system simulation experiments are performed using the National Centers for Environmental Prediction Global Forecast System (GFS) with hybrid 3DEnVar data assimilation and the ECMWF T511 nature run. First, three types of simulated perfect dropsonde observations (temperature, specific humidity, and wind) are assimilated into the GFS over a large idealized sampling domain covering the Pacific Ocean. For the three winter storms studied, forecast error was found to be significantly reduced with all three types of measurements providing the most benefit (%–15% reduction in error). Instances when forecasts are not improved are investigated and concluded to be due to challenging meteorological structures, such as cutoff lows and interactions with atmospheric structures outside the sampling domain. Second, simulated dropsondes are assimilated over sensitive areas and flight tracks established using the ensemble transform sensitivity (ETS) technique. For all three winter storms, forecast error is reduced up to 5%, which is less than that found using an idealized domain. These results suggest that targeted observations over the Pacific Ocean may provide a small improvement to winter storm forecasts over the United States.

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Michael J. Mueller, Andrew C. Kren, Lidia Cucurull, Sean P. F. Casey, Ross N. Hoffman, Robert Atlas, and Tanya R. Peevey

Abstract

A global observing system simulation experiment (OSSE) was used to assess the potential impact of a proposed Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) radio occultation (RO) constellation on tropical cyclone (TC) track, maximum 10-m wind speed (V max), and integrated kinetic energy (IKE) forecasts. The OSSE system was based on the 7-km NASA nature run and simulated RO refractivity determined by the spatial distribution of observations from the original planned (i.e., including both equatorial and polar orbits) Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate-2 (COSMIC-2). Data were assimilated using the NOAA operational weather analysis and forecasting system. Three experiments generated global TC track, V max, and IKE forecasts over 6 weeks of the North Atlantic hurricane season in the North Atlantic, east Pacific, and west Pacific basins. Confidence in our results was bolstered because track forecast errors were similar to those of official National Hurricane Center forecasts, and V max errors and IKE errors showed similar results. GNSS-RO assimilation did not significantly impact global track forecasts, but did slightly degrade V max and IKE forecasts in the first 30–60 h of lead time. Global forecast error statistics show adding or excluding explicit random errors to RO profiles made little difference to forecasts. There was large forecast-to-forecast variability in RO impact. For two cases studied in depth, track and V max improvements and degradations were traced backward through the previous 24 h of assimilation cycles. The largest V max degradation was traced to particularly good control analyses rather than poor analyses caused by GNSS-RO.

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Sid-Ahmed Boukabara, Kayo Ide, Narges Shahroudi, Yan Zhou, Tong Zhu, Ruifang Li, Lidia Cucurull, Robert Atlas, Sean P. F. Casey, and Ross N. Hoffman

Abstract

The simulation of observations—a critical Community Global Observing System Simulation Experiment (OSSE) Package (CGOP) component—is validated first by a comparison of error-free simulated observations for the first 24 h at the start of the nature run (NR) to the real observations for those sensors that operated during that period. Sample results of this validation are presented here for existing low-Earth-orbiting (LEO) infrared (IR) and microwave (MW) brightness temperature (BT) observations, for radio occultation (RO) bending angle observations, and for various types of conventional observations. For sensors not operating at the start of the NR, a qualitative validation is obtained by comparing geographic and statistical characteristics of observations over the initial day for such a sensor and an existing similar sensor. The comparisons agree, with no significant unexplained bias, and to within the uncertainties caused by real observation errors, time and space collocation differences, radiative transfer uncertainties, and differences between the NR and reality. To validate channels of a proposed future MW sensor with no equivalent existing spaceborne sensor channel, multiple linear regression is used to relate these channels to existing similar channels. The validation then compares observations simulated from the NR to observations predicted by the regression relationship applied to actual real observations of the existing channels. Overall, the CGOP simulations of error-free observations from conventional and satellite platforms that make up the global observing system are found to be reasonably accurate and suitable as a starting point for creating realistic simulated observations for OSSEs. These findings complete a critical step in the CGOP validation, thereby reducing the caveats required when interpreting the OSSE results.

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Xubin Zeng, Robert Atlas, Ronald J. Birk, Frederick H. Carr, Matthew J. Carrier, Lidia Cucurull, William H. Hooke, Eugenia Kalnay, Raghu Murtugudde, Derek J. Posselt, Joellen L. Russell, Daniel P. Tyndall, Robert A. Weller, and Fuqing Zhang

Abstract

The NOAA Science Advisory Board appointed a task force to prepare a white paper on the use of observing system simulation experiments (OSSEs). Considering the importance and timeliness of this topic and based on this white paper, here we briefly review the use of OSSEs in the United States, discuss their values and limitations, and develop five recommendations for moving forward: national coordination of relevant research efforts, acceleration of OSSE development for Earth system models, consideration of the potential impact on OSSEs of deficiencies in the current data assimilation and prediction system, innovative and new applications of OSSEs, and extension of OSSEs to societal impacts. OSSEs can be complemented by calculations of forecast sensitivity to observations, which simultaneously evaluate the impact of different observation types in a forecast model system.

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Sid-Ahmed Boukabara, Isaac Moradi, Robert Atlas, Sean P. F. Casey, Lidia Cucurull, Ross N. Hoffman, Kayo Ide, V. Krishna Kumar, Ruifang Li, Zhenglong Li, Michiko Masutani, Narges Shahroudi, Jack Woollen, and Yan Zhou

Abstract

A modular extensible framework for conducting observing system simulation experiments (OSSEs) has been developed with the goals of 1) supporting decision-makers with quantitative assessments of proposed observing systems investments, 2) supporting readiness for new sensors, 3) enhancing collaboration across the community by making the most up-to-date OSSE components accessible, and 4) advancing the theory and practical application of OSSEs. This first implementation, the Community Global OSSE Package (CGOP), is for short- to medium-range global numerical weather prediction applications. The CGOP is based on a new mesoscale global nature run produced by NASA using the 7-km cubed sphere version of the Goddard Earth Observing System, version 5 (GEOS-5), atmospheric general circulation model and the January 2015 operational version of the NOAA global data assimilation (DA) system. CGOP includes procedures to simulate the full suite of observing systems used operationally in the global DA system, including conventional in situ, satellite-based radiance, and radio occultation observations. The methodology of adding a new proposed observation type is documented and illustrated with examples of current interest. The CGOP is designed to evolve, both to improve its realism and to keep pace with the advance of operational systems.

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Gary A. Wick, Jason P. Dunion, Peter G. Black, John R. Walker, Ryan D. Torn, Andrew C. Kren, Altug Aksoy, Hui Christophersen, Lidia Cucurull, Brittany Dahl, Jason M. English, Kate Friedman, Tanya R. Peevey, Kathryn Sellwood, Jason A. Sippel, Vijay Tallapragada, James Taylor, Hongli Wang, Robbie E. Hood, and Philip Hall

Abstract

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology (SHOUT) project evaluated the ability of observations from high-altitude unmanned aircraft to improve forecasts of high-impact weather events like tropical cyclones or mitigate potential degradation of forecasts in the event of a future gap in satellite coverage. During three field campaigns conducted in 2015 and 2016, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Global Hawk, instrumented with GPS dropwindsondes and remote sensors, flew 15 missions sampling 6 tropical cyclones and 3 winter storms. Missions were designed using novel techniques to target sampling regions where high model forecast uncertainty and a high sensitivity to additional observations existed. Data from the flights were examined in real time by operational forecasters, assimilated in operational weather forecast models, and applied postmission to a broad suite of data impact studies. Results from the analyses spanning different models and assimilation schemes, though limited in number, consistently demonstrate the potential for a positive forecast impact from the observations, both with and without a gap in satellite coverage. The analyses with the then-operational modeling system demonstrated large forecast improvements near 15% for tropical cyclone track at a 72-h lead time when the observations were added to the otherwise complete observing system. While future decisions regarding use of the Global Hawk platform will include budgetary considerations, and more observations are required to enhance statistical significance, the scientific results support the potential merit of the observations. This article provides an overview of the missions flown, observational approach, and highlights from the completed and ongoing data impact studies.

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Gary A. Wick, Jason P. Dunion, Peter G. Black, John R. Walker, Ryan D. Torn, Andrew C. Kren, Altug Aksoy, Hui Christophersen, Lidia Cucurull, Brittany Dahl, Jason M. English, Kate Friedman, Tanya R. Peevey, Kathryn Sellwood, Jason A. Sippel, Vijay Tallapragada, James Taylor, Hongli Wang, Robbie E. Hood, and Philip Hall
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Sid A. Boukabara, Tong Zhu, Hendrik L. Tolman, Steve Lord, Steven Goodman, Robert Atlas, Mitch Goldberg, Thomas Auligne, Bradley Pierce, Lidia Cucurull, Milija Zupanski, Man Zhang, Isaac Moradi, Jason Otkin, David Santek, Brett Hoover, Zhaoxia Pu, Xiwu Zhan, Christopher Hain, Eugenia Kalnay, Daisuke Hotta, Scott Nolin, Eric Bayler, Avichal Mehra, Sean P. F. Casey, Daniel Lindsey, Louie Grasso, V. Krishna Kumar, Alfred Powell, Jianjun Xu, Thomas Greenwald, Joe Zajic, Jun Li, Jinliong Li, Bin Li, Jicheng Liu, Li Fang, Pei Wang, and Tse-Chun Chen

Abstract

In 2011, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began a cooperative initiative with the academic community to help address a vexing issue that has long been known as a disconnection between the operational and research realms for weather forecasting and data assimilation. The issue is the gap, more exotically referred to as the “valley of death,” between efforts within the broader research community and NOAA’s activities, which are heavily driven by operational constraints. With the stated goals of leveraging research community efforts to benefit NOAA’s mission and offering a path to operations for the latest research activities that support the NOAA mission, satellite data assimilation in particular, this initiative aims to enhance the linkage between NOAA’s operational systems and the research efforts. A critical component is the establishment of an efficient operations-to-research (O2R) environment on the Supercomputer for Satellite Simulations and Data Assimilation Studies (S4). This O2R environment is critical for successful research-to-operations (R2O) transitions because it allows rigorous tracking, implementation, and merging of any changes necessary (to operational software codes, scripts, libraries, etc.) to achieve the scientific enhancement. So far, the S4 O2R environment, with close to 4,700 computing cores (60 TFLOPs) and 1,700-TB disk storage capacity, has been a great success and consequently was recently expanded to significantly increase its computing capacity. The objective of this article is to highlight some of the major achievements and benefits of this O2R approach and some lessons learned, with the ultimate goal of inspiring other O2R/R2O initiatives in other areas and for other applications.

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