The Effect Of Topographic Variability On Initial Condition Sensitivity Of Low-Level Wind Forecasts Part 2

– Bieringer P.E., P.S. Ray, A.J. Annunzio, 2013 | Part 2: Experiments Using Real Terrain And Observations. Mon Wea. Rev., 141, pp. 2156-2172


A study by Bieringer et al., which is Part I of this two-part study, demonstrated analytically using the shallow-water equations and numerically in controlled experiments that the presence of terrain can result in an enhancement of sensitivities to initial condition adjustments. The increased impact of adjustments to initial conditions corresponds with gradients in the flow field induced by the presence of the terrain obstacle. In cross-barrier flow situations the impact of the initial condition adjustments on the final forecast increases linearly as the height of the terrain obstacle increases. While this property associated with initial condition perturbations may be present in an analytic and controlled numerical environment, it is often difficult to realize these benefits in a more operationally realistic setting.

This study extends the prior work to a situation with actual terrain, Doppler radar wind observations over the terrain, and observations from a surface mesonet for model verification. The results indicate that the downstream surface wind forecast was improved more when the initial conditions adjusted through the assimilation of Doppler radar data originated from areas with terrain gradients than from regions where the terrain was relatively flat. This result is consistent with the findings presented in Part I and suggests that when varying terrain elevation is present upstream of a target forecast area, a greater benefit (in terms of forecast accuracy) can be made by targeting additional observations in the regions containing variable terrain than regions where the terrain is relatively flat.

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