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Kosuke Ito, Tohru Kuroda, Kazuo Saito, and Akiyoshi Wada


This work quantifies the benefits of using a high-resolution atmosphere–ocean coupled model in tropical cyclone (TC) intensity forecasts in the vicinity of Japan. To do so, a large number of high-resolution calculations were performed by running the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) nonhydrostatic atmospheric mesoscale model (AMSM) and atmosphere–ocean coupled mesoscale model (CMSM). A total of 281 3-day forecasts were compiled for 34 TCs from April 2009 to September 2012 for each model. The performance of these models is compared with the JMA global atmospheric spectral model (GSM) that is used for the operational TC intensity guidance. The TC intensities are better predicted by CMSM than the other models. The improvement rates in CMSM relative to GSM and AMSM generally increase with increasing forecast time (FT). CMSM is better than GSM and AMSM by 27.4% and 21.3% at FT = 48 h in terms of minimum sea level pressure, respectively. Regarding the maximum wind speed, CMSM is better than GSM and AMSM by 12.8% and 19.5% at FT = 48 h, respectively. This is due to smaller initial intensity errors and sea surface cooling consistent with in situ observations that suppress erroneous TC intensification. Thus, a high-resolution coupled model is promising for TC intensity prediction in the area surrounding Japan, where most of the TCs are in a decay stage. In contrast, coupling to the upper-ocean model yields only a negligible difference in the TC track forecast skill on average.

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Takuya Kawabata, Tohru Kuroda, Hiromu Seko, and Kazuo Saito


A cloud-resolving nonhydrostatic four-dimensional variational data assimilation system (NHM-4DVAR) was modified to directly assimilate radar reflectivity and applied to a data assimilation experiment using actual observations of a heavy rainfall event. Modifications included development of an adjoint model of the warm rain process, extension of control variables, and development of an observation operator for radar reflectivity.

The responses of the modified NHM-4DVAR were confirmed by single-observation assimilation experiments for an isolated deep convection, using pseudo-observations of rainwater at the initial and end times of the data assimilation window. The results showed that the intensity of convection could be adjusted by assimilating appropriate observations of rainwater near the convection and that undesirable convection could be suppressed by assimilating small or no reflectivity.

An assimilation experiment using actual observations of a local heavy rainfall in the Tokyo, Japan, metropolitan area was conducted with a horizontal resolution of 2 km. Precipitable water vapor derived from global positioning system data was assimilated at 5-min intervals within 30-min assimilation windows, and surface and wind profiler data were assimilated at 10-min intervals. Doppler radial wind and radar-reflectivity data below the elevation angle of 5.4° were assimilated at 1-min intervals.

The 4DVAR assimilation reproduced a line-shaped rainband with a shape and intensity consistent with the observation. Assimilation of radar-reflectivity data intensified the rainband and suppressed false convection. The simulated rainband lasted for 1 h in the extended forecast and then gradually decayed. Sustaining the low-level convergence produced by northerly winds in the western part of the rainband was key to prolonging the predictability of the convective system.

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