A Hybrid ETKF–3DVAR Data Assimilation Scheme for the WRF Model. Part II: Real Observation Experiments

Xuguang Wang; Barker, Dale M.; Snyder, Chris; Hamill, Thomas M.
December 2008
Monthly Weather Review;Dec2008, Vol. 136 Issue 12, p5132
Academic Journal
The hybrid ensemble transform Kalman filter–three-dimensional variational data assimilation (ETKF–3DVAR) system developed for the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model was further tested with real observations, as a follow-up for the observation system simulation experiment (OSSE) conducted in Part I. A domain encompassing North America was considered. Because of limited computational resources and the large number of experiments conducted, the forecasts and analyses employed relatively coarse grid spacing (200 km) to emphasize synoptic scales. As a first effort to explore the new system with real observations, relatively sparse observation datasets consisting of radiosonde wind and temperature during 4 weeks of January 2003 were assimilated. The 12-h forecasts produced by the hybrid analysis produced less root-mean-square error than the 3DVAR. The hybrid improved the forecast more in the western part of the domain than the eastern part. It also produced larger improvements in the upper troposphere. The overall magnitude of the ETKF ensemble spread agreed with the overall magnitude of the background forecast error. For individual variables and layers, the consistency between the spread and the error was less than the OSSE in Part I. Given the coarse resolution and relatively sparse observation network adopted in this study, caution is warranted when extrapolating these results to operational applications. A case study was also performed to further understand a large forecast improvement of the hybrid during the 4-week period. The flow-dependent adjustments produced by the hybrid extended a large distance into the eastern Pacific data-void region. The much improved analysis and forecast by the hybrid in the data void subsequently improved forecasts downstream in the region of verification. Although no moisture observations were assimilated, the hybrid updated the moisture fields flow dependently through cross-variable covariances defined by the ensemble, which improved the forecasts of cyclone development.


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