Impact of Satellite Observations on the Tropical Cyclone Track Forecasts of the Navy Operational Global Atmospheric Prediction System

Goerss, James S.
January 2009
Monthly Weather Review;Jan2009, Vol. 137 Issue 1, p41
Academic Journal
The tropical cyclone (TC) track forecasts of the Navy Operational Global Atmospheric Prediction System (NOGAPS) were evaluated for a number of data assimilation experiments conducted using observational data from two periods: 4 July–31 October 2005 and 1 August–30 September 2006. The experiments were designed to illustrate the impact of different types of satellite observations on the NOGAPS TC track forecasts. The satellite observations assimilated in these experiments consisted of feature-track winds from geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites, Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) total column precipitable water and wind speeds, Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit-A (AMSU-A) radiances, and Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) and European Remote Sensing Satellite-2 (ERS-2) scatterometer winds. There were some differences between the results from basin to basin and from year to year, but the combined results for the 2005 and 2006 test periods for the North Pacific and Atlantic Ocean basins indicated that the assimilation of the feature-track winds from the geostationary satellites had the most impact, ranging from 7% to 24% improvement in NOGAPS TC track forecasts. This impact was statistically significant at all forecast lengths. The impact of the assimilation of SSM/I precipitable water was consistently positive and statistically significant at all forecast lengths. The improvements resulting from the assimilation of AMSU-A radiances were also consistently positive and significant at most forecast lengths. There were no significant improvements/degradations from the assimilation of the other satellite observation types [e.g., Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) winds, SSM/I wind speeds, and scatterometer winds]. The assimilation of all satellite observations resulted in a gain in skill of roughly 12 h for the NOGAPS 48- and 72-h TC track forecasts and a gain in skill of roughly 24 h for the 96- and 120-h forecasts. The percent improvement in these forecasts ranged from almost 20% at 24 h to over 40% at 120 h.


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