9.6 Convection-permitting forecasts initialized with continuously cycling limited-area 3DVAR, ensemble Kalman filter, and “hybrid” variational-ensemble data assimilation systems

Wednesday, 7 August 2013: 4:45 PM
Multnomah (DoubleTree by Hilton Portland)
Craig S. Schwartz, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and Z. Liu

Analyses with 20-km horizontal grid spacing were produced from parallel continuously cycling three-dimensional variational (3DVAR), ensemble square root Kalman filter (EnSRF), and “hybrid” variational-ensemble data assimilation (DA) systems between 0000 UTC 6 May and 0000 UTC 21 June 2011 over a domain spanning the continental United States. Beginning 9 May, the 0000 UTC analyses initialized 36-hr Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model forecasts containing a large convection-permitting 4-km nest. These 4-km 3DVAR-, EnSRF-, and hybrid-initialized forecasts were compared to benchmark WRF forecasts initialized by interpolating 0000 UTC Global Forecast System (GFS) analyses onto the computational domain.

While important differences regarding mean state characteristics of the 20-km DA systems were noted, verification efforts focused on the 4-km precipitation forecasts. The 3DVAR-, hybrid-, and EnSRF-initialized 4-km precipitation forecasts performed similarly regarding general precipitation characteristics, such as timing of the diurnal cycle, and all three forecast sets had high precipitation biases at higher rainfall rates. However, meaningful differences emerged regarding precipitation placement as quantified by the fractions skill score. For most forecast hours, the hybrid-initialized 4-km precipitation forecasts were better than the EnSRF-, 3DVAR-, and GFS-initialized forecasts, and the improvement was often statistically significant at the 95th percentile. These results demonstrate the potential of limited-area continuously cycling hybrid DA configurations and suggest additional hybrid development is warranted.

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