Tests of an Ensemble Kalman Filter for Mesoscale and Regional-Scale Data Assimilation. Part I: Perfect Model Experiments

Fuqing Zhang; Zhiyong Meng; Aksoy, Altug
February 2006
Monthly Weather Review;Feb2006, Vol. 134 Issue 2, p722
Academic Journal
Through observing system simulation experiments, this two-part study exploits the potential of using the ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) for mesoscale and regional-scale data assimilation. Part I focuses on the performance of the EnKF under the perfect model assumption in which the truth simulation is produced with the same model and same initial uncertainties as those of the ensemble, while Part II explores the impacts of model error and ensemble initiation on the filter performance. In this first part, the EnKF is implemented in a nonhydrostatic mesoscale model [the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–NCAR Mesoscale Model (MM5)] to assimilate simulated sounding and surface observations derived from simulations of the “surprise” snowstorm of January 2000. This is an explosive East Coast cyclogenesis event with strong error growth at all scales as a result of interactions between convective-, meso-, and subsynoptic-scale dynamics. It is found that the EnKF is very effective in keeping the analysis close to the truth simulation under the perfect model assumption. The EnKF is most effective in reducing larger-scale errors but less effective in reducing errors at smaller, marginally resolvable scales. In the control experiment, in which the truth simulation was produced with the same model and same initial uncertainties as those of the ensemble, a 24-h continuous EnKF assimilation of sounding and surface observations of typical temporal and spatial resolutions is found to reduce the error by as much as 80% (compared to a 24-h forecast without data assimilation) for both observed and unobserved variables including zonal and meridional winds, temperature, and pressure. However, it is observed to be relatively less efficient in correcting errors in the vertical velocity and moisture fields, which have stronger smaller-scale components. The analysis domain-averaged root-mean-square error after 24-h assimilation is ∼1.0–1.5 m s-1 for winds and ∼1.0 K for temperature, which is comparable to or less than typical observational errors. Various sensitivity experiments demonstrated that the EnKF is quite successful in all realistic observational scenarios tested. However, as will be presented in Part II, the EnKF performance may be significantly degraded if an imperfect forecast model is used, as is likely the case when real observations are assimilated.


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