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Ensemble data assimilation in the presence of cloud

By S. Vetra-Carvalho, Stefano Migliorini and Nancy Nichols


In numerical weather prediction (NWP) data assimilation (DA) methods are used to combine available observations with numerical model estimates. This is done by minimising measures of error on both observations and model estimates with more weight given to data that can be more trusted. For any DA method an estimate of the initial forecast error covariance matrix is required. For convective scale data assimilation, however, the properties of the error covariances are not well understood. An effective way to investigate covariance properties in the presence of convection is to use an ensemble-based method for which an estimate of the error covariance is readily available at each time step. In this work, we investigate the performance of the ensemble square root filter (EnSRF) in the presence of cloud growth applied to an idealised 1D convective column model of the atmosphere. We show that the EnSRF performs well in capturing cloud growth, but the ensemble does not cope well with discontinuities introduced into the system by parameterised rain. The state estimates lose accuracy, and more importantly the ensemble is unable to capture the spread (variance) of the estimates correctly. We also find, counter-intuitively, that by reducing the spatial frequency of observations and/or the accuracy of the observations, the ensemble is able to capture the states and their variability successfully across all regimes

Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.compfluid.2011.01.033
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