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Aurélie Bouchard, Florence Rabier, Vincent Guidard, and Fatima Karbou


The Concordiasi field experiment, which is taking place in Antarctica, involves the launching of radiosoundings and stratospheric balloons. One of the main goals of this campaign is the validation of the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) radiance assimilation. Prior to the campaign, it was necessary to improve satellite data assimilation at high latitudes. Two types of sensors, microwave and infrared, have been considered to help with this issue. A major problem associated with microwave satellite data is the calculation of the surface emissivity. An innovative approach, based on satellite observations, improves the surface emissivity modeling over land and sea ice within the constraints of the four-dimensional variational data assimilation (4D-VAR) system. With this new calculation of emissivity, it has been possible to include many more microwave observations during the assimilation. In this study, this method has been applied to high latitudes, after some adjustments have been made to assimilate additional Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit-A/B (AMSU-A/B) data over sea ice and snow. The use of additional data from IASI and the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) sensors over land and sea ice has also been tested. The use of the microwave and infrared data over this polar area has modified the dynamical and thermodynamical model fields such as the snow precipitation quantity. Additional data have been found to have a positive impact on the skill of a model specially tuned for Antarctica.

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Thomas Pangaud, Nadia Fourrie, Vincent Guidard, Mohamed Dahoui, and Florence Rabier


An approach to make use of Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) cloud-affected infrared radiances has been developed at Météo-France in the context of the global numerical weather prediction model. The method is based on (i) the detection and the characterization of clouds by the CO2-slicing algorithm and (ii) the identification of clear–cloudy channels using the ECMWF cloud-detection scheme. Once a hypothetical cloud-affected pixel is detected by the CO2-slicing scheme, the cloud-top pressure and the effective cloud fraction are provided to the radiative transfer model simultaneously with other atmospheric variables to simulate cloud-affected radiances. Furthermore, the ECMWF scheme flags each channel of the pixel as clear or cloudy. In the current configuration of the assimilation scheme, channels affected by clouds whose cloud-top pressure ranges between 600 and 950 hPa are assimilated over sea in addition to clear channels. Results of assimilation experiments are presented. On average, 3.5% of additional pixels are assimilated over the globe but additional assimilated channels are much more numerous for mid- to high latitudes (10% of additional assimilated channels on average). Encouraging results are found in the quality of the analyses: background departures of AIRS observations are reduced, especially for surface channels, which are globally 4 times smaller, and the analysis better fits some conventional and satellite data. Global forecasts are slightly improved for the geopotential field. These improvements are significant up to the 72-h forecast range. Predictability improvements have been obtained for a case study: a low pressure system that affected the southeastern part of Italy in September 2006. The trajectory, intensity, and the whole development of the cyclogenesis are better predicted, whatever the forecast range, for this case study.

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Florence Rabier, Aurélie Bouchard, Eric Brun, Alexis Doerenbecher, Stéphanie Guedj, Vincent Guidard, Fatima Karbou, Vincent-Henri Peuch, Laaziz El Amraoui, Dominique Puech, Christophe Genthon, Ghislain Picard, Michael Town, Albert Hertzog, François Vial, Philippe Cocquerez, Stephen A. Cohn, Terry Hock, Jack Fox, Hal Cole, David Parsons, Jordan Powers, Keith Romberg, Joseph VanAndel, Terry Deshler, Jennifer Mercer, Jennifer S. Haase, Linnea Avallone, Lars Kalnajs, C. Roberto Mechoso, Andrew Tangborn, Andrea Pellegrini, Yves Frenot, Jean-Noël Thépaut, Anthony McNally, Gianpaolo Balsamo, and Peter Steinle

The Concordiasi project is making innovative observations of the atmosphere above Antarctica. The most important goals of the Concordiasi are as follows:

  • To enhance the accuracy of weather prediction and climate records in Antarctica through the assimilation of in situ and satellite data, with an emphasis on data provided by hyperspectral infrared sounders. The focus is on clouds, precipitation, and the mass budget of the ice sheets. The improvements in dynamical model analyses and forecasts will be used in chemical-transport models that describe the links between the polar vortex dynamics and ozone depletion, and to advance the under understanding of the Earth system by examining the interactions between Antarctica and lower latitudes.
  • To improve our understanding of microphysical and dynamical processes controlling the polar ozone, by providing the first quasi-Lagrangian observations of stratospheric ozone and particles, in addition to an improved characterization of the 3D polar vortex dynamics. Techniques for assimilating these Lagrangian observations are being developed.

A major Concordiasi component is a field experiment during the austral springs of 2008–10. The field activities in 2010 are based on a constellation of up to 18 long-duration stratospheric super-pressure balloons (SPBs) deployed from the McMurdo station. Six of these balloons will carry GPS receivers and in situ instruments measuring temperature, pressure, ozone, and particles. Twelve of the balloons will release dropsondes on demand for measuring atmospheric parameters. Lastly, radiosounding measurements are collected at various sites, including the Concordia station.

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Stephen A. Cohn, Terry Hock, Philippe Cocquerez, Junhong Wang, Florence Rabier, David Parsons, Patrick Harr, Chun-Chieh Wu, Philippe Drobinski, Fatima Karbou, Stéphanie Vénel, André Vargas, Nadia Fourrié, Nathalie Saint-Ramond, Vincent Guidard, Alexis Doerenbecher, Huang-Hsiung Hsu, Po-Hsiung Lin, Ming-Dah Chou, Jean-Luc Redelsperger, Charlie Martin, Jack Fox, Nick Potts, Kathryn Young, and Hal Cole

Constellations of driftsonde systems— gondolas floating in the stratosphere and able to release dropsondes upon command— have so far been used in three major field experiments from 2006 through 2010. With them, high-quality, high-resolution, in situ atmospheric profiles were made over extended periods in regions that are otherwise very difficult to observe. The measurements have unique value for verifying and evaluating numerical weather prediction models and global data assimilation systems; they can be a valuable resource to validate data from remote sensing instruments, especially on satellites, but also airborne or ground-based remote sensors. These applications for models and remote sensors result in a powerful combination for improving data assimilation systems. Driftsondes also can support process studies in otherwise difficult locations—for example, to study factors that control the development or decay of a tropical disturbance, or to investigate the lower boundary layer over the interior Antarctic continent. The driftsonde system is now a mature and robust observing system that can be combined with flight-level data to conduct multidisciplinary research at heights well above that reached by current research aircraft. In this article we describe the development and capabilities of the driftsonde system, the exemplary science resulting from its use to date, and some future applications.

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Florence Rabier, Steve Cohn, Philippe Cocquerez, Albert Hertzog, Linnea Avallone, Terry Deshler, Jennifer Haase, Terry Hock, Alexis Doerenbecher, Junhong Wang, Vincent Guidard, Jean-Noël Thépaut, Rolf Langland, Andrew Tangborn, Gianpaolo Balsamo, Eric Brun, David Parsons, Jérôme Bordereau, Carla Cardinali, François Danis, Jean-Pierre Escarnot, Nadia Fourrié, Ron Gelaro, Christophe Genthon, Kayo Ide, Lars Kalnajs, Charlie Martin, Louis-François Meunier, Jean-Marc Nicot, Tuuli Perttula, Nicholas Potts, Patrick Ragazzo, David Richardson, Sergio Sosa-Sesma, and André Vargas
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Fiona Hilton, Raymond Armante, Thomas August, Chris Barnet, Aurelie Bouchard, Claude Camy-Peyret, Virginie Capelle, Lieven Clarisse, Cathy Clerbaux, Pierre-Francois Coheur, Andrew Collard, Cyril Crevoisier, Gaelle Dufour, David Edwards, Francois Faijan, Nadia Fourrié, Antonia Gambacorta, Mitchell Goldberg, Vincent Guidard, Daniel Hurtmans, Samuel Illingworth, Nicole Jacquinet-Husson, Tobias Kerzenmacher, Dieter Klaes, Lydie Lavanant, Guido Masiello, Marco Matricardi, Anthony McNally, Stuart Newman, Edward Pavelin, Sebastien Payan, Eric Péquignot, Sophie Peyridieu, Thierry Phulpin, John Remedios, Peter Schlüssel, Carmine Serio, Larrabee Strow, Claudia Stubenrauch, Jonathan Taylor, David Tobin, Walter Wolf, and Daniel Zhou

The Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) forms the main infrared sounding component of the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites's (EUMETSAT's) Meteorological Operation (MetOp)-A satellite (Klaes et al. 2007), which was launched in October 2006. This article presents the results of the first 4 yr of the operational IASI mission. The performance of the instrument is shown to be exceptional in terms of calibration and stability. The quality of the data has allowed the rapid use of the observations in operational numerical weather prediction (NWP) and the development of new products for atmospheric chemistry and climate studies, some of which were unexpected before launch. The assimilation of IASI observations in NWP models provides a significant forecast impact; in most cases the impact has been shown to be at least as large as for any previous instrument. In atmospheric chemistry, global distributions of gases, such as ozone and carbon monoxide, can be produced in near–real time, and short-lived species, such as ammonia or methanol, can be mapped, allowing the identification of new sources. The data have also shown the ability to track the location and chemistry of gaseous plumes and particles associated with volcanic eruptions and fires, providing valuable data for air quality monitoring and aircraft safety. IASI also contributes to the establishment of robust long-term data records of several essential climate variables. The suite of products being developed from IASI continues to expand as the data are investigated, and further impacts are expected from increased use of the data in NWP and climate studies in the coming years. The instrument has set a high standard for future operational hyperspectral infrared sounders and has demonstrated that such instruments have a vital role in the global observing system.

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