Assimilating AIRS temperature and mixing ratio profiles using an ensemble kalman filter approach for convective-scale forecasts

Thomas A. Jones, David J. Stensrud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


One satellite data product that has received great interest in the numerical weather prediction community is the temperature and mixing ratio profiles derived from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on board the Aqua satellite. This research assesses the impact of assimilating AIRS profiles on high-resolution ensemble forecasts of southern plains severe weather events occurring on 26 May 2009 and 10 May 2010 by comparing two ensemble forecasts. In one ensemble, the 1830 and 2000 UTC level 2 AIRS temperature and dewpoint profiles are assimilated with all other routine observations into a 36-member, 15-km Weather and Research Forecast Model (WRF) ensemble using a Kalman filter approach. The other ensemble is identical, except that only routine observations are assimilated. In addition, 3-km one-way nested-grid ensemble forecasts are produced during the periods of convection. Results indicate that over the contiguous United States, the AIRS profiles do not measurably improve the ensemble mean forecasts of midtropospheric temperature and dewpoint. However, the ensemble mean dewpoint profiles in the region of severe convective development are improved by the AIRS assimilation. Comparisons of the forecast ensemble radar reflectivity probabilities between the 1- and 4-h forecast times with nearby Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) observations show that AIRS-enhanced ensembles consistently generate more skillful forecasts of the convective features at these times.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-564
Number of pages24
JournalWeather and Forecasting
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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