OSSEs for an ensemble 3DVAR data assimilation system with radar observations of convective storms

Jidong Gao, Chenghao Fu, David J. Stensrud, John S. Kain

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46 Scopus citations


An ensemble of the three-dimensional variational data assimilation (En3DA) method for convective-scale weather has been developed. It consists of an ensemble of three-dimensional variational data assimilations and forecasts in which member differences are introduced by perturbing initial conditions and/or observations, and it uses flow-dependent error covariances generated by the ensemble forecasts. The method is applied to the assimilation of simulated radar data for a supercell storm. Results indicate that the flow-dependent ensemble covariances are effective in enabling convective-scale analyses, as the most important features of the simulated storm, including the low-level cold pool and midlevel mesocyclone, are well analyzed. Several groups of sensitivity experiments are conducted to test the robustness of the method. The first group demonstrates that incorporating a mass continuity equation as a weak constraint into the En3DA algorithm can improve the quality of the analyses when radial velocity observations contain large errors. In the second group of experiments, the sensitivity of analyses to the microphysical parameterization scheme is explored. Results indicate that the En3DA analyses are quite sensitive to differences in the microphysics scheme, suggesting that ensemble forecasts with multiple microphysics schemes could reduce uncertainty related to model physics errors. Experiments also show that assimilating reflectivity observations can reduce spinup time and that it has a small positive impact on the quality of the wind field analysis. Of the threshold values tested for assimilating reflectivity observations, 15 dBZ provides the best analysis. The final group of experiments demonstrates that it is not necessary to perturb radial velocity observations for every ensemble number in order to improve the quality of the analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2403-2426
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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