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Masaru Kunii

Abstract

This study seeks to improve forecasts of local severe weather events through data assimilation and ensemble forecasting approaches using the local ensemble transform Kalman filter (LETKF) implemented with the Japan Meteorological Agency’s nonhydrostatic model (NHM). The newly developed NHM–LETKF contains an adaptive inflation scheme and a spatial covariance localization scheme with physical distance, and it permits a one-way nested analysis in which a finer-resolution LETKF is conducted by using the output of an outer model. These new features enhance the potential of the LETKF for convective-scale events. The NHM–LETKF was applied to a local severe rainfall event in Japan during 2012. Comparison of the root-mean-square errors between the model first guess and analysis showed that the system assimilated observations appropriately. Analysis ensemble spreads indicated a significant increase around the time torrential rainfall occurred, implying an increase in the uncertainty of environmental fields. Forecasts initialized with LETKF analyses successfully captured intense rainfalls, suggesting that the system could work effectively for local severe weather events. Investigation of probabilistic forecasts by ensemble forecasting indicated that this could become a reliable data source for decision making in the future. A one-way nested data assimilation scheme was also tested. The results demonstrated that assimilation with a finer-resolution model improved the precipitation forecasting of local severe weather conditions.

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Masaru Kunii

Abstract

Improving tropical cyclone (TC) forecasts is one of the most important issues in meteorology, but TC intensity forecasting is a challenging task. Because the lack of observations near TCs usually results in degraded accuracy of the initial fields, utilizing TC advisory data in data assimilation typically has started with an ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF). In this study, TC minimum sea level pressure (MSLP) and position information were directly assimilated using the EnKF, and the impacts of these observations were investigated by comparing different assimilation strategies. Another experiment with TC wind radius data was carried out to examine the influence of TC shape parameters. Sensitivity experiments indicated that the direct assimilation of TC MSLP and position data yielded results that were superior to those based on conventional assimilation of TC MSLP as a standard surface pressure observation. Assimilation of TC radius data modified the outer circulation of TCs closer to observations. The impacts of these TC parameters were also evaluated by using the case of Typhoon Talas in 2011. The TC MSLP, position, and wind radius data led to improved TC track forecasts and therefore to improved precipitation forecasts. These results imply that initialization with these TC-related observations benefits TC forecasting, offering promise for the prevention and mitigation of natural disasters caused by TCs.

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Masaru Kunii
and
Takemasa Miyoshi

Abstract

Sea surface temperature (SST) plays an important role in tropical cyclone (TC) life cycle evolution, but often the uncertainties in SST estimates are not considered in the ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF). The lack of uncertainties in SST generally results in the lack of ensemble spread in the atmospheric states near the sea surface, particularly for temperature and moisture. In this study, the uncertainties of SST are included by adding ensemble perturbations to the SST field, and the impact of the SST perturbations is investigated using the local ensemble transform Kalman filter (LETKF) with the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) in the case of Typhoon Sinlaku (2008). In addition to the experiment with the perturbed SST, another experiment with manually inflated ensemble perturbations near the sea surface is performed for comparison. The results indicate that the SST perturbations within EnKF generally improve analyses and their subsequent forecasts, although manually inflating the ensemble spread instead of perturbing SST does not help. Investigations of the ensemble-based forecast error covariance indicate larger scales for low-level temperature and moisture from the SST perturbations, although manual inflation of ensemble spread does not produce such structural effects on the forecast error covariance. This study suggests the importance of considering SST perturbations within ensemble-based data assimilation and promotes further studies with more sophisticated methods of perturbing SST fields such as using a fully coupled atmosphere–ocean model.

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Masaru Kunii
,
Takemasa Miyoshi
, and
Eugenia Kalnay

Abstract

The ensemble sensitivity method of Liu and Kalnay estimates the impact of observations on forecasts without observing system experiments (OSEs), in a manner similar to the adjoint sensitivity method of Langland and Baker but without using an adjoint model. In this study, the ensemble sensitivity method is implemented with the local ensemble transform Kalman filter (LETKF) and the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model with real observations. The results in the case of Typhoon Sinlaku (2008) show that upper-air soundings have the largest positive impact on the 12-h forecasts, and that the targeted impact evaluation performs as expected and is computationally efficient. Denying negative-impact observations improves the forecasts, validating the estimated observation impact.

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Masaru Kunii
,
Kosuke Ito
, and
Akiyoshi Wada

Abstract

An ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) that uses a regional mesoscale atmosphere–ocean coupled model was preliminarily examined to provide realistic sea surface temperature (SST) estimates and to represent the uncertainties of SST in ensemble data assimilation strategies. The system was evaluated through data assimilation cycle experiments over a one-month period from July to August 2014, during which time a tropical cyclone (TC) as well as severe rainfall events occurred. The results showed that the data assimilation cycle with the coupled model reproduced SST distributions realistically even without assimilating SST and sea surface salinity observations, and atmospheric variables provided to ocean models can, therefore, control oceanic variables physically to some extent. The forecast error covariance calculated in the EnKF with the coupled model showed dependency on oceanic vertical mixing for near-surface atmospheric variables due to the difference of variability between the atmosphere and the ocean as well as the influence of SST variations on the atmospheric boundary layer. The EnKF with the coupled model reproduced the intensity change of Typhoon Halong (2014) during the mature phase more realistically than with an uncoupled atmosphere model, although there remained a degradation of the SST estimate, particularly around the Kuroshio region. This suggests that an atmosphere–ocean coupled data assimilation system should be developed that is able to physically control both atmospheric and oceanic variables.

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Sho Yokota
,
Hiroshi Niino
,
Hiromu Seko
,
Masaru Kunii
, and
Hiroshi Yamauchi

Abstract

To identify important factors for supercell tornadogenesis, 33-member ensemble forecasts of the supercell tornado that struck the city of Tsukuba, Japan, on 6 May 2012 were conducted using a mesoscale numerical model with a 50-m horizontal grid. Based on the ensemble forecasts, the sources of the rotation of simulated tornadoes and the relationship between tornadogenesis and mesoscale environmental processes near the tornado were analyzed. Circulation analyses of near-surface, tornadolike vortices simulated in several ensemble members showed that the rotation of the tornadoes could be frictionally generated near the surface. However, the mechanisms responsible for generating circulation were only weakly related to the strength of the tornadoes. To identify the mesoscale processes required for tornadogenesis, mesoscale atmospheric conditions and their correlations with the strength of tornadoes were examined. The results showed that two near-tornado mesoscale factors were important for tornadogenesis: strong low-level mesocyclones (LMCs) at about 1 km above ground level and humid air near the surface. Strong LMCs and large water vapor near the surface strengthened the nonlinear dynamic vertical perturbation pressure gradient force and buoyancy, respectively. These upward forces made contributions essential for tornadogenesis via tilting and stretching of vorticity near the surface.

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Sho Yokota
,
Hiromu Seko
,
Masaru Kunii
,
Hiroshi Yamauchi
, and
Hiroshi Niino

Abstract

A tornadic supercell and associated low-level mesocyclone (LMC) observed on the Kanto Plain, Japan, on 6 May 2012 were predicted with a nonhydrostatic mesoscale model with a horizontal resolution of 350 m through assimilation of surface meteorological data (horizontal wind, temperature, and relative humidity) of high spatial density and C-band Doppler radar data (radial velocity and rainwater estimated from reflectivity and specific differential phase) with a local ensemble transform Kalman filter. With assimilation of both surface and radar data, a strong LMC was successfully predicted near the path of the actual tornado. When either surface or radar data were not assimilated, however, the LMC was not predicted. Therefore, both surface and radar data were essential for successful LMC forecasts. The factors controlling the strength of the predicted LMC, defined as a low-level maximum vertical vorticity, were clarified by an ensemble-based sensitivity analysis (ESA), which is a new approach for analyzing LMC intensification. The ESA showed that the strength of the LMC was sensitive to low-level convergence forward of the storm and to low-level relative humidity in the rear of the storm. Therefore, the correction of these low-level variables by assimilation of dense observations was found to be particularly important for forecasting and monitoring the LMC in the present case.

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Kosuke Ito
,
Masaru Kunii
,
Takuya Kawabata
,
Kazuo Saito
,
Kazumasa Aonashi
, and
Le Duc

Abstract

This paper discusses the benefits of using a hybrid ensemble Kalman filter and four-dimensional variational (4D-Var) data assimilation (DA) system rather than a 4D-Var system employing the National Meteorological Center (NMC, now known as NCEP) method (4D-Var-Bnmc) to predict severe weather events. An adjoint-based 4D-Var system was employed with a background error covariance matrix constructed from the NMC method and perturbations in a local ensemble transform Kalman filter system. The DA systems are based on the Japan Meteorological Agency’s nonhydrostatic model. To reduce the sampling noise, three types of implementation (the spatial localization, spectral localization, and neighboring ensemble approaches) were tested. The assimilation of a pseudosingle observation of sea level pressure located at a tropical cyclone (TC) center yielded analysis increments physically consistent with what is expected of a mature TC in the hybrid systems at the beginning of the assimilation window, whereas analogous experiments performed using the 4D-Var-Bnmc system did not. At the end, the structures of the 4D-Var-based increments became similar to one another, while the analysis increment by the 4D-Var-Bnmc system was broad in the horizontal direction. Realistic DA experiments showed that all of the hybrid systems provided initial conditions that yielded more accurate TC track and intensity forecasts than those achievable by the 4D-Var-Bnmc system. The hybrid systems also yielded some statistically significant improvements in forecasting local heavy rainfall events in terms of fraction skill scores when a 160 km × 160 km window size was used. The overall skills of the hybrid systems were relatively independent of the choice of implementation.

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María E. Dillon
,
Yanina García Skabar
,
Juan Ruiz
,
Eugenia Kalnay
,
Estela A. Collini
,
Pablo Echevarría
,
Marcos Saucedo
,
Takemasa Miyoshi
, and
Masaru Kunii

Abstract

Improving the initial conditions of short-range numerical weather prediction (NWP) models is one of the main goals of the meteorological community. Development of data assimilation and ensemble forecast systems is essential in any national weather service (NWS). In this sense, the local ensemble transform Kalman filter (LETKF) is a methodology that can satisfy both requirements in an efficient manner. The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model coupled with the LETKF, developed at the University of Maryland, College Park, have been implemented experimentally at the NWS of Argentina [Servicio Meteorológico Nacional (SMN)], but at a somewhat lower resolution (40 km) than the operational Global Forecast System (GFS) at that time (27 km). The purpose of this work is not to show that the system presented herein is better than the higher-resolution GFS, but that its performance is reasonably comparable, and to provide the basis for a continued improved development of an independent regional data assimilation and forecasting system. The WRF-LETKF system is tested during the spring of 2012, using the prepared or quality controlled data in Binary Universal Form for Representation of Meteorological Data (PREPBUFR) observations from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) and lateral boundary conditions from the GFS. To assess the effect of model error, a single-model LETKF system (LETKF-single) is compared with a multischeme implementation (LETKF-multi), which uses different boundary layer and cumulus convection schemes for the generation of the ensemble of forecasts. The performance of both experiments during the test period shows that the LETKF-multi usually outperforms the LETKF-single, evidencing the advantages of the use of the multischeme approach. Both data assimilation systems are slightly worse than the GFS in terms of the synoptic environment representation, as could be expected given their lower resolution. Results from a case study of a strong convective system suggest that the LETKF-multi improves the location of the most intense area of precipitation with respect to the LETKF-single, although both systems show an underestimation of the total accumulated precipitation. These preliminary results encourage continuing the development of an operational data assimilation system based on WRF-LETKF at the SMN.

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Takemasa Miyoshi
,
Masaru Kunii
,
Juan Ruiz
,
Guo-Yuan Lien
,
Shinsuke Satoh
,
Tomoo Ushio
,
Kotaro Bessho
,
Hiromu Seko
,
Hirofumi Tomita
, and
Yutaka Ishikawa

Abstract

Sudden local severe weather is a threat, and we explore what the highest-end supercomputing and sensing technologies can do to address this challenge. Here we show that using the Japanese flagship “K” supercomputer, we can synergistically integrate “big simulations” of 100 parallel simulations of a convective weather system at 100-m grid spacing and “big data” from the next-generation phased array weather radar that produces a high-resolution 3-dimensional rain distribution every 30 s—two orders of magnitude more data than the currently used parabolic-antenna radar. This “big data assimilation” system refreshes 30-min forecasts every 30 s, 120 times more rapidly than the typical hourly updated systems operated at the world’s weather prediction centers. A real high-impact weather case study shows encouraging results of the 30-s-update big data assimilation system.

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