The Effect Of Topographic Variability On Initial Condition Sensitivity Of Low-Level Wind Forecasts- Part 1

– Bieringer P.E., P.S. Ray, A.J. Annunzio, 2013 | Part 1: Experiments Using Idealized Terrain. Mon Wea. Rev., 141, pp 2137-2155


The concept of improving the accuracy of numerical weather forecasts by targeting additional meteorological observations in areas where the initial condition error is suspected to grow rapidly has been the topic of numerous studies and field programs. The challenge faced by this approach is that it typically requires a costly observation system that can be quickly adapted to place instrumentation where needed. The present study examines whether the underlying terrain in a mesoscale model influences model initial condition sensitivity and if knowledge of the terrain and corresponding predominant flow patterns for a region can be used to direct the placement of instrumentation. This follows the same concept on which earlier targeted observation approaches were based, but eliminates the need for an observation system that needs to be continually reconfigured. Simulations from the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research (PSU–NCAR) Mesoscale Model (MM5) and its adjoint are used to characterize the locations, variables, and magnitudes of initial condition perturbations that have the most significant impact on the surface wind forecast.

This study examines a relatively simple case where an idealized mountain surrounded by a flat plain is located upwind of the forecast verification region. The results suggest that, when elevated terrain is present upstream of the target forecast area, the largest forecast impact (defined as the difference between the simulation with perturbed initial conditions and a control simulation where the initial condition was not perturbed) occurs when the initial analysis perturbations are made in regions with complex terrain.

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