Impact of the Assimilation of CHAMP Refractivity Profiles on Environment Canada Global Forecasts

Aparicio, Josep M.; Deblonde, Godelieve
January 2008
Monthly Weather Review;Jan2008, Vol. 136 Issue 1, p257
Academic Journal
The data assimilation system of Environment Canada (EC) is adapted to accept GPS radio occultation (GPSRO) data. Observations of this type are available with extensive coverage from several satellites. In this study, experiments are performed to compare the skill of EC’s three-dimensional variational data assimilation (3DVAR) system (including all data normally assimilated operationally), with and without the addition of radio occultation refractivity data from the Challenging Minisatellite Payload for Geophysical Research (CHAMP). These data were not available at the time studied as near-real-time (NRT) observations. However, data from this and other radio occultation missions are now available as NRT data, and the conditions (latency, reliability) are improving. It is expected that NRT GPSRO data from a number of satellite missions will continue to be available through the following years. The results of the assimilation tests are evaluated against the following three data types: radiosondes (temperature and dewpoint depression), satellite brightness temperatures (from the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit-A), and GPS radio occultation refractivity profiles. For the 6-h forecasts, the differences between GPSRO observations and forecasts (O - F) are significantly reduced in the experiment that assimilates the GPSRO data. This reduction increases as the experiment proceeds in time, and stabilizes after a transient period of approximately 2 weeks, suggesting that the addition of GPSRO data to the assimilation system has a beneficial, persisting, and cumulative effect. This effect is more pronounced in the stratosphere than in the troposphere. In the stratosphere, the standard deviation of GPSRO (O - F) of the experiment that assimilates GPSRO decreases after the initial transient period by approximately 10%. This improvement can best be observed in the southern stratosphere where reductions of the order of 30% are common. This shows that, as a globally distributed and vertically well-resolved source of data, the GPSRO observations are not only useful for assimilation, but also as a tool to quantify the forecast skill of the assimilation system. Comparisons with radiometer and radiosonde data confirm the positive impact in these geographical areas. Longer-range forecasts (up to 6 days) also show a positive impact with similar geographical and altitude distribution.


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