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Michiko Otsuka, Hiromu Seko, Masahiro Hayashi, and Ko Koizumi


Himawari-8 optimal cloud analysis (OCA), which employs all 16 channels of the Advanced Himawari Imager, provides cloud properties such as cloud phase, top pressure, optical thickness, effective radius, and water path. By using OCA, the water vapor distribution can be inferred with high spatiotemporal resolution and with a wide coverage, including over the ocean, which can be useful for improving initial states for prediction of the torrential rainfalls that occur frequently in Japan. OCA products were first evaluated by comparing them with different kinds of datasets (surface, sonde, and ceilometer observations) and with model outputs, to determine their data characteristics. Overall, OCA data were consistent with observations of water clouds with moderate optical thicknesses at low to midlevels. Next, pseudorelative humidity data were derived from the OCA products, and utilized in assimilation experiments of a few heavy rainfall cases, conducted with the Japan Meteorological Agency’s nonhydrostatic model–based Variational Data Assimilation System. Assimilation of OCA pseudorelative humidities caused there to be significant differences in the initial conditions of water vapor fields compared to the control, especially where OCA clouds were detected, and their influence lasted relatively long in terms of forecast hours. Impacts of assimilation on other variables, such as wind speed, were also seen. When the OCA data successfully represented low-level inflows from over the ocean, they positively impacted precipitation forecasts at extended forecast times.

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