What is the impact of additional tropical observations on a modern data assimilation system?

Laura C. Slivinski, Gilbert P. Compo, Jeffrey S. Whitaker, Prashant D. Sardeshmukh, Jih-Wang A. Wang, Kate Friedman, Chesley McColl
2019 Monthly Weather Review  
Given the network of satellite and aircraft observations around the globe, do additional in situ observations impact analyses within a global forecast system? Despite the dense observational network at many levels in the tropical troposphere, assimilating additional sounding observations taken in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean during the 2016 El Niño Rapid Response (ENRR) locally improves wind, temperature, and humidity 6-h forecasts using a modern assimilation system. Fields from a 50-km
more » ... elds from a 50-km reanalysis that assimilates all available observations, including those taken during the ENRR, are compared with those from an otherwise-identical reanalysis that denies all ENRR observations. These observations reveal a bias in the 200-hPa divergence of the assimilating model during a strong El Niño. While the existing observational network partially corrects this bias, the ENRR observations provide a stronger mean correction in the analysis. Significant improvements in the mean-square fit of the first-guess fields to the assimilated ENRR observations demonstrate that they are valuable within the existing network. The effects of the ENRR observations are pronounced in levels of the troposphere that are sparsely observed, particularly 500-800 hPa. Assimilating ENRR observations has mixed effects on the mean-square difference with nearby non-ENRR observations. Using a similar system but with a higher-resolution forecast model yields comparable results to the lower-resolution system. These findings imply a limited improvement in large-scale forecast variability from additional in situ observations, but significant improvements in local 6-h forecasts.
doi:10.1175/mwr-d-18-0120.1 fatcat:ayor6lsz7jct3lt3visbxqrglu