Improving Large-Domain Convection-Allowing Forecasts with High-Resolution Analyses and Ensemble Data Assimilation

Craig S. Schwartz
2016 Monthly Weather Review  
Analyses with 20-km horizontal grid spacing were produced from continuously cycling three-dimensional variational (3DVAR), ensemble square root Kalman filter (EnSRF), and "hybrid" variational-ensemble data assimilation (DA) systems over a domain spanning the conterminous United States. These analyses initialized 36-h Weather Research and Forecasting Model forecasts containing a large convection-allowing 4-km nested domain, where downscaled 20-km 3DVAR, EnSRF, and hybrid analyses initialized the
more » ... ses initialized the 4-km forecasts. Overall, hybrid analyses initialized the best 4-km precipitation forecasts. Furthermore, whether 4-km precipitation forecasts could be improved by initializing them with true 4-km analyses was assessed. As it was computationally infeasible to produce 4-km continuously cycling ensembles over the large 4-km domain, several "dual-resolution" hybrid DA configurations were adopted where 4-km backgrounds were combined with 20-km ensembles to produce 4-km hybrid analyses. Additionally, 4-km 3DVAR analyses were produced. In both hybrid and 3DVAR frameworks, initializing 4-km forecasts with true 4-km analyses, rather than downscaled 20-km analyses, yielded superior precipitation forecasts over the first 12 h. Differences between forecasts initialized from 4-km and downscaled 20-km hybrid analyses were smaller for 18-36-h forecasts, but there were occasionally meaningful differences. Continuously cycling the 4-km backgrounds and using static background error covariances with larger horizontal length scales in the hybrid led to better forecasts. All hybrid-initialized forecasts, including those initialized from downscaled 20-km analyses, were more skillful than forecasts initialized from 4-km 3DVAR analyses, suggesting the analysis method was more important than analysis resolution.
doi:10.1175/mwr-d-15-0286.1 fatcat:jnkdlkja7nho7c342x4ytueufa